Well, it’s not exactly a snow day here in Houston. More of an inclement weather day. The temperature dipped below freezing and we had some rain. And icy roads and overpasses are something we cannot deal with here. So, no school and extra time on our hands.
When I said to my youngest teenage son Eli, “Hey, do you want to make something in the kitchen today?” I was so pleased when, without hesitation, he said: “Yeah, let’s make honest pretzels!”
I’ve been making homemade pretzels with my kids ever since I got Mollie Katzen’s cookbook for kids many, many years ago. Katzen’s Moosewood cookbook was my very first introduction to vegetarian cooking, so she holds a special place in my heart. The recipes in her kids cookbook are so fun and easy with very clear directions to help both children and adults learn their way around the kitchen.
This recipe starts by making a batch of dough that can be used to make pretzels or dinner rolls. We always opt for the pretzels!
After the dough rises for an hour, the fun really begins as you shape the dough into long, thin ropes and then into pretzels. Before the pretzels are baked in the oven, you precook them in a big pot of boiling water. She gives clear instructions about how mom or dad should help out here. This was the first time, Eli pretty much did it all on his own.
Before they go into the oven, you spray the pretzels with a little water and sprinkle them with coarse salt. They bake about 15 minutes and then it’s time to have a snow day pretzels feast.
From start to finish, this probably took us at least two hours. Which for a blustery day like today, was perfect. Now it’s time to watch a movie with a belly full of honest pretzels and enjoy having my kid with me while he’s still okay hanging out with me.
For my gluten-free friends, I would like to try this someday with gluten-free AP flour. When I do, I will let you know how it turns out.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Honest Pretzels
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp dry active dry yeast
1 Tbsp organic evaporated cane sugar
2 Tbsp vegan margarine, melted (such as Earth Balance)
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus extra for handling the dough
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
Coarse pretzel salt
Place warm water in a 2 cup glass liquid measuring cup. Add yeast, sugar and 1 Tbsp melted margarine. Set aside for the yeast to proof. Use the remaining margarine to lightly coat a large bowl using a pastry brush. Set aside bowl for later use.
Place 3 cups of flour and 1 1/4 tsp sea salt in the bowl of a food processor. Turn on food processor. As it is running, slowly pour the water mixture into the flour through the feed tube. Once the dough has formed turn off and take it out onto a floured work surface. Begin kneading the dough for about 2-3 minutes, adding more flour if it feels sticky.
Place the dough into the greased bowl and let stand covered with a kitchen towel to rest for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
Using a pastry cutter, cut the dough into approximately 32 equal sized parts. Roll each ball of dough in your hand to make a rope shape about 12 inches long. You may need extra flour on your hands to do this.
Shape the pretzels like this:
This is the fun part! Pinch all the ends tightly so the pretzels don’t fall apart in the water. Let the shaped pretzels rest for 5 minutes, then boil them for about 1 minute in batches of 8-10 pretzels at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pretzels from the water.
Place them on lightly oiled baking sheets. Using a spray bottle, lightly spray each pretzels and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 8 minutes and then spray them with more water to create some steam in the oven. This will help make them crisp. Bake for 7-9 more minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool off at least 5 minutes before serving. ENJOY!