Hot, chewy soft pretzels are a delicious accompaniment to anything from a walk down a city street to great seats at a ballgame. They are also an easy snack to make at home, especially with kids. Traditional pretzels get their deep brown color and delicately crisp outer crust from being bathed in a mixture of water and lye, which is caustic and not safe for use by young children. Substitute a baking soda bath for the lye, and you'll end up with soft, golden pretzels safe for even little hands to create.
A Simple Snack That Kids of All Ages Can Help Make
Total Time: 2 hours | Prep Time: 45 minutes | Serves: 8 to 12
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus some for salting pretzels
- 1 .25-ounce packet dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- Vegetable or canola oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
- Pour the warm water into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and kosher salt. Sprinkle the entire contents of the yeast packet on top of the water. Let the yeast mixture stand for at least 5 minutes. The mixture is ready to use when it gets foamy.
- Stir the melted butter into the yeast mixture, making sure that it is completely blended in.
- Fold in 2 3/4 cups of the flour. Stir it with a wooden spoon or mix with clean hands until the dough comes together.
- Use as much as you need of the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to dust your work surface. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead it gently for about 5 minutes or until it easily forms a smooth, flexible ball.
- Oil a deep bowl with vegetable or canola oil. Form the dough into a ball and put it in the oiled bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, and let it rise for about 1 hour or until the dough grows to twice its original size.
- Heat the oven to 475F. Coat two cookie sheets with a light film of vegetable or canola oil.
- Turn the risen dough out onto your floured surface and roll it into a thick log. Use a sharp knife to slice the log into 8 to 12 equal slices.
- Roll each slice into a rope about the thickness of your thumb and 18 to 20 inches long.
- Form each rope of dough into a pretzel shape by lifting the ends and crossing them. Twist them together at their middles and gently stick the ends to the bottom edge of the pretzel shape.
- Fill a pot or deep skillet with water. Stir in the baking soda and bring it just to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pretzel shapes two or three at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. Simmer them for 60 seconds per side (because they float). Scoop them out with a skimmer or slotted spoon and place them on the oiled cookie sheets. Brush the tops of the pretzels with the egg wash, and sprinkle them generously with kosher salt.
- Bake the pretzels for 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Turn the baking sheets halfway through baking for a more uniform color.
Brynne Chandler raised three children alone while navigating a career writing TV Animation. She has worked both out of the house and at home, giving her a uniquely broad perspective on what it takes to balance a career and kids. Brynne has been writing how-to and informational content for almost a decade. She is hard at work on her first cookbook, which combines fresh, simple recipes with science-based natural healing.