This may sound harsh but if you want your kids to learn how to bake, don’t buy them snack foods. When we went plastic-free, I stopped buying crackers and cookies. If my kids want crackers or cookies, they make crackers or cookies. Not only have they learned baking skills, they also eat fewer snacks—sometimes the effort to make the snack outweighs the craving.
My teenage daughter Charlotte (who this time allowed me to use her name in my post) loves to make soft pretzels. She first made them in elementary school about five years ago and has since become a proficient pretzel-maker. I tried to take pics of her making the batch featured in this post, but she moves so quickly, most of the pics merely captured a flurry of hands getting their work done so they could feed their owner pretzels asap.
The dough rose higher than you see above but my fast-working daughter divided it up into eight pie-shaped portions before I could snap a pic. She then rolled each portion out into a long rope and twisted the rope into a pretzel.
Charlotte says the addition of baking soda to the boiling water creates the appetizing brown crust and cracking on the pretzels as seen below. She forgot to sprinkle salt on the first four pretzels but they were delicious. In fact, we devoured those first. Charlotte has also sprinkled her pretzels with cinnamon and sugar in lieu of salt. That tastes delicious also.
We bake on our Silpats occasionally but I wonder if they are inert or safe (also I hate washing them!). I might retire them. If you don’t use them, simply grease the cookie sheets.
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (100° to 105° F)
- 2 to 3 cups white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt plus more for sprinkling
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside for a bout 10 minutes, until yeast becomes foamy.
- Combine 2 cups white flour, whole wheat flour and salt. When the yeast is ready, stir it into the flour mixture. Add more white flour as needed to make a stiff dough.
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead by hand for 7 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form a ball.
- Grease a bowl with olive oil. Place dough ball in the bowl and turn right side up to coat the entire ball in oil. Place a towel over the bowl and set bowl aside, preferably in a warm spot in the kitchen. Let the dough rise for about an hour and a half, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 475°F and grease two cookie sheets.
- Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a rope, about 20 inches long and then twist into a pretzel shape. Lightly press the ends of the rope into the pretzel.
- Bring water to a boil in a pot and dissolve the baking soda. Drop in pretzels one or two at a time and boil for about a minute. Drain and transfer to a baking sheet.
- Sprinkle pretzels with salt. (You can also sprinkle them for cinnamon and sugar in lieu of salt.) Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
I've successfully made these using whey leftover from yogurt or labneh making. Just substitute warm whey for the warm water when proofing the yeast.