Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Out Of My Comfort Zone: Soft Pretzels With Kids
Last year I started a series of posts called Out Of My Comfort Zone where I attempted to bake and cook with my kids. First we made Sugar Cookies and I confessed my extreme discomfort in cooking with children. In that post I also shared some tips for making kitchen memories a little less stressful. Then we tried Pop Tarts and Pizza, both fairly successful adventures. While I did invite the kids into the kitchen more than those three times last year, the amount of work involved meant that I rarely got out the camera to document the process.
I continue to wish I was one of those moms that didn't care about mess on the counters and fingers in the flour and kids licking the butter, but alas... I care. And it stresses me out. One thing that's helped a lot is that my kids are getting older and they're doing a much better job of following directions. I still do some prep work before I invite them into the kitchen; I measure out ingredients and get the large containers out of the way... less chance that they'll be eating brown sugar by the handful when I turn my back.
On our trip to Busch Garden's Christmas Town we ate the most wonderful fresh baked soft pretzels. Not the fresh-from-frozen variety but hand-rolled-and-pulled-out-of-the-oven-right-before-your-eyes pretzels. I've been craving them since we got home so one day during break Hannah and I got busy in the kitchen. I used Alton Brown's soft pretzel recipe and was really impressed at how easy it all was.
I made the dough before calling her over. Then I pulled out hunks of dough which she rolled and tried to shape.
Her attempts, after being shown how to twist a pretzel shape, were impressive.
Then she carefully arranged them onto cookie sheets.
I boiled a pan of water and added baking soda. I've never made a boil-the-dough-first recipe before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was super easy and in 30 seconds our pretzels had puffed up and were floating in the boiling water.
I drained them off and set them back on Hannah's counter where she painted an egg wash onto each pretzel. I sprinkled on the salt (since it is her FAVORITE and I can't keep her from sneaking it, sprinkling it into her hand or licking the top of the salt shaker*).
9 minutes in the oven and we had these awesome homemade soft pretzels! Hannah's first reaction was, "Mom! They turned BROWN!! Just like REAL pretzels!!"
I wish I had some pictures of the kids eating the pretzels but they sucked them down so fast I couldn't get a shot. Once again, Alton Brown comes through with a recipe. Thanks!
*Do not be alarmed. I sanitize my salt and pepper shakers on a regular basis because of Hannah. It is safe to eat and flavor your food at my house.