When I was six years old, I wrote to the Greystone Culinary Institute to ask them for some information about the school. So when my son Roan, who is only four, tells me he loves to cook and he’s going to be “a cooker” when he grows up, I totally get it.
Most of the time we spend in the kitchen together, we follow a recipe. When you’re first starting out learning any endeavor, I fully believe you need to know the rules (before you can intelligently break them). One day, maybe he’ll do something crazy and beautiful with food. But first, he needs to learn how to follow a recipe.
So we either pick one out together online or I pull out a cookbook from the cabinet. I have some store-bought ones, but I do have a set of three cookbooks that include handwritten recipes. Only the best of the best that I’ve cooked goes in there. Certainly, I can’t just jot down a recipe that’s only so-so in my precious books!!
When Roan asked to bake soft pretzels the other day, I knew just what recipe to use and it came from one of my handwritten cookbooks.
While I made the traditional shape and baked those on one baking sheet. Roan and my three year old Meara experimented with their dough, shaping and twisting it, and we baked those separately (which is important for an even bake).
Don’t be intimidated by using yeast! I know that can throw off a lot of home bakers – it certainly made me skip over many recipes in the past. The kids did all of the mixing and helped with the kneading (I jumped in at this point to knead for a few minutes). If a three- and four-year-old can successfully make these pretzels, I know anyone can!
These are best served warm with mustard on the first day they’re baked, but they warm up well in the oven if you’d like to toast them a little under the broiler.
Simple and Soft Bavarian Pretzels
Enjoy these tasty, soft, and simple Bavarian-style pretzels in under an hour.
- 3.5 c lukewarm water separated
- 1 package dry active yeast
- 4.5 c white flour
- 2 TBS brown sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 egg separated
- 4 TBS unsalted butter melted
- 2 TBS baking soda
- coarse salt for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together 1.5 cups water and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes until yeast is bubbly.
In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt. Mix in egg yolk, butter, and yeast mixture. Stir in a bowl until combined and then turn out on a floured surface and knead until the dough is a well-mixed, 5-7 minutes. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
In a large shallow dish, combine the baking soda with 2 cups of warm water. On a work surface, divide the dough into six equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a 42" rope. Dip each rope or dough shape into the baking soda water for 30 seconds and then shape into a pretzel (Alternatively, you can make pretzel bites, smaller pretzels, or other shapes as desired).
In a small bowl, beat the egg water with 1 TBS water. Brush each pretzel with the egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until deep golden, 12-15 minutes for the larger pretzels, 8-12 minutes for smaller pretzels.