2017-07-12 / Entertainment

Home-baked soft pretzels is family fun

This photo provided by The Culinary Institute of America shows soft pretzels in Hyde Park, N.Y. This dish is from a recipe by the CIA. (Phil Mansfield/The Culinary Institute of America via AP) This photo provided by The Culinary Institute of America shows soft pretzels in Hyde Park, N.Y. This dish is from a recipe by the CIA. (Phil Mansfield/The Culinary Institute of America via AP) You know pretzels and have probably eaten them in many different forms, but do you know how they’re made?

They begin with a dough, not unlike any you’ve made before, with flour, water, yeast, salt, and butter. After fermentation, to help get that tang we all love, they are shaped into the classic twist. Before they’re baked, they are dipped in a food-grade lye solution, which is responsible for the brown, shiny exterior that calls to us from a bakeshop window.

Pretzels are a staple of school lunches, but usually it’s the crunchy variety that we can buy in the store. And while those hit the spot, what could kids love more than a home-baked pretzel made with their own tiny hands? With this recipe for Soft Pretzels, you and your family can get “back-to-school ready” with a fun kitchen project.

The recipe from The Culinary Institute of America’s book “The Young Chef” calls for a baking soda solution to replace the not-so kid-friendly lye that we use in our bakeshops. The results won’t be as shiny and dark as the professional kind, but it’s still pretzel-y.

These pretzels are shaped into classic twists, which is so fun but can be hard for those of us lacking in fine motor skills and/or patience. Luckily, a pretzel is a pretzel no matter the shape, so if you prefer, you can roll the dough into logs and then cut little bite size pretzel nuggets. You can also make small, round rolls or bagel shapes - anything little minds can imagine!

And the variations don’t stop there. “Young Chef” author and Mark Ainsworth suggests: “Add raisins to the dough while it’s mixing, or dust the pretzels with cinnamon sugar before baking to make a great sweet pretzel.” And don’t forget the dippers! Spicy, whole grain mustard is classic, but kids might also love nut butter, melted chocolate (sweet and salty), and the mall-classic cheese sauce.

The best part of this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time and frozen (we do not expect your little student to be up baking bread at 4 a.m. like ours are). Homemade bread can get stale quickly, but you can bake and cool the pretzels, then freeze them in a resealable bag to help extend their shelf life. If you’ve made small bites, you can even put them into your kids’ lunchbox frozen, and they’ll be ready by the time they eat lunch.

Servings: 4
Start to finish: 1 hour 55 minutes (Active time: 25 minutes)

2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 cup warm (but not hot)
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon honey
2-1/4 teaspoons salt

Dipping Solution
4 cups water
3 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse sea salt, as needed for

To make the dough, in a small
bowl, mix together the flour and

In the bowl of a stand mixer
fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water, butter,
honey, and salt. Add the flour
mixture and mix on low speed until the ingredients are combined,
about 1 minute. Raise the speed to
medium and mix until the dough
is smooth, about 3 minutes.
Cover the bowl with plastic
wrap and let the dough rise in a
warm place until doubled in size,
about 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the
bowl and divide into 4 equal
pieces. Use both hands to roll each
piece of dough against the counter

into a short log. Place the logs on
the counter, loosely cover all of
the pieces with plastic wrap, and
let rest for 15 minutes.
Roll each piece of dough under
your palms until it is 30 inches
long and tapered so that the center
is slightly thicker than the ends.
Hold the two ends of the dough
in your hands and cross them over
each other, to form an X, with the
thicker center of the dough at the
bottom. Twist the ends again and
then bring the two ends down and
press each end into the bottom of
the pretzel, leaving about 2 inches
in between. Press gently to seal
the dough.

Transfer the pretzels to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and
cover with plastic wrap. Let the
dough rest at room temperature
until the pretzels have doubled in
size, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile,
preheat the oven to 400 F.
Place the baking sheet in the
refrigerator until the dough forms
a skin, about 10 minutes.
To make the dipping solution,
while the dough is in the refrigerator, combine the water and baking
soda in a large bowl. Stir until the
baking soda is dissolved.
Dip each pretzel in the dipping
solution and return to the baking
sheet. Sprinkle the pretzels with

the salt while they are still wet.
Bake the pretzels until they are
dark golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack
to cool before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 135 calories; 12 calories from
fat; 1 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans
fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 1526 mg
sodium; 26 g carbohydrate; 1 g
fiber; 1 g sugar; 4 g protein.

This article was provided to The
Associated Press by The Culinary
Institute of America in Hyde Park,
New York. It is taken from the CIA’s
“The Young Chef .”

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