When we had a snow day and found ourselves with 12 hours to be together, pretzels seemed like a perfect activity. And my son who the day before had been a whirlwind of tantrums was a perfect companion. As any reader of this blog knows, we cook together frequently. What I loved about making pretzels with the 3 year old was how completely free it was for him to cook this time. He liked watching me form the dough into snakes and then making a somewhat lame attempt at shaping the snakes into pretzels. But it was once he realized that he could make any shape that he got more and more excited. And his experiments, some being about one inch long, were quite delicious!
While there are many recipes for pretzels that mostly consist of shaping bread dough into shapes and then baking, they miss true pretzel flavor. Pretzels need to be boiled, just like bagels. The recipe I used comes from what is rapidly becoming one of my favorite blogs: Smitten Kitchen. It may look complicated, especially if you aren't used to baking, but it really is quite easy. In fact the hardest part for me was trying to make pretzels that looked even remotely as good as on the Smitten blog! And, more importantly, when you eat one warm out of the oven, any fuss (or, in our case, piles of spilled flour) will be very worth it. The next time I make them I am going to use some white whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur brand) just to add some whole grains. I also made one calzone style and folded in some ricotta. It was very yummy.
Rather than retype the Smitten Kitchen recipe, just click here. Also, due to Raphael's egg allergy we eliminated the egg without any problem. The salt and sesame seeds still stuck on and the pretzels still turned out to be a lovely shade of brown.
My last suggestion-eat them while they are hot. They were good the next day, but they didn't even come close to triggering intense New York pretzel cart memories like the first few did.