Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

Twist soft dough into your own designs and enjoy a hearty treat. 60 - 90 Minutes, Ages 2+

1 package active dry yeast (.25 ounce or roughly 2 teaspoons)

2 T. sugar

1 1/8 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups warm water

4 cups all-purpose flour (Life Lab uses whole wheat)

4 cups water (for boiling) with 4 T. baking soda

Condiments: butter, coarse kosher salt, regular table salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, mustard

Steps:

  1. Dissolve yeast, sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Let sit for a couple minutes. Stir in the flour and knead for about 8 minutes.
  2. Place in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel.  Let sit for an hour.
  3. Cut into about 12 pieces and roll each into a 2 foot rope, pencil thin. Twist each piece up into a pretzel.
  4. Combine 4 cups warm water and baking soda in pan (cast-iron or non-aluminum).  Let this come to a simmer, not a boil. Put each pretzel in for about a minute, flipping if necessary.
  5. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Brush or dip in melted butter or mist with water; sprinkle salt or cinnamon/sugar on top. Enjoy!

This recipe uses a small number of ingredients and is a great way to spend the afternoon cooking with your family.  We took turns measuring out the sugar, water, salt and yeast and watched it come alive! My kids were fascinated at watching the little bubbles start to form as we discussed that yeast is actually a living thing that eats sugar and produces a gas.  We “awakened” the yeast by adding the warm water and giving it a food source and the air bubbles it produced helped give the dough some space so it is not so dense. We added the flour next (our family chose to use half white flour and half wheat flour, but any combination will work) and took turns kneading the dough.  We came up with creative ways to knead the dough by punching it in different patterns — punch, punch, splat! Kneading helps the gluten proteins in bread align and gives the bread some texture, so it is important to take your time on this step. Let the dough sit for at least an hour and then when you’re ready, break the dough up into approximately 12 pieces or handfuls of dough.  Next, roll the pieces into a long worm-like shape. We found rolling the dough to be a little challenging so our rolls ended up a little thicker than the size of a pencil, but our pretzels still turned out great. We also made other shapes besides the traditional ones and had the most fun making twists. After dropping the pretzels in the simmering baking soda water, I carefully took them out with a slotted spoon and placed the dough on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat.  After baking the pretzels for 10 minutes at 450 degrees we took them out and gave them three toppings: melted butter and sea salt, melted butter and cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkled parmesan cheese. Delicious!

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