Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kooking with Kids: Soft pretzels

As a child, one of my favorite treats was a soft pretzel covered with cheese. No trip to the Dayton Mall would be complete without a stop at Hot Sam’s to get one. Now that I am all grown up, my taste in snacks has not changed, but my desire to hang out at the mall has. I haven’t set foot in the Dayton Mall-or any other mall for that matter-in over four years. How have I managed to control my cravings for soft pretzels? It is with great shame that I admit I have been relying on pre -made, frozen pretzels that you pop in the microwave. Don’t get me wrong, they serve their purpose-they are a quick and tasty snack. But with that convenience comes a higher grocery bill, more preservatives and a limited ability to personalize your snack. I recently made soft pretzels from scratch with my older son, Michael, and I will never go back to making frozen! The benefits of making your own pretzels are numerous:

• You get to have fun with your kids while teaching them life lessons that they don’t even realize are lessons
• Homemade pretzels contain no preservatives
• You can control the amount of salt that goes on them
• Instant portion control since you are in charge of the size and shape
• The recipe is easy to personalize
• It is fun to experiment with various spices and herbs to create new pretzel flavors
• It is easy to double-or triple-the recipe and freeze leftovers for future snacking

So what are you waiting for? Grab your kids, head to your pantry and make some pretzels!

    • 1 envelope active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water, 115-120 degrees F
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • Coarse salt, to taste

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and spray 2 baking sheets with non-stick spray. Set sheets aside. In a large bowl, add honey to warm water and stir in yeast. Allow yeast to grow for 10-15 minutes then stir in salt and flour and mix well. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 16 equal portions and roll into ropes. Shape each rope into a pretzel-or other desired shape. Place each pretzel on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and water. Brush mixture on each pretzel and sprinkle with coarse salt before baking. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

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