Solomon and Celia first fell in love with soft pretzels on the streets of Manhattan, when we bought one for each of them from one of the metal rolling carts that line the avenues. They were still hot and speckled with big grains of salt, and the kids were instantly hooked.
As their love affair with soft pretzels persisted, we introduced Solomon and Celia to the healthier and more innovative flavors of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels (their favorites are Pizza Pretzels), which, although made in Chicago, we can buy frozen at our local supermarket. [See below for details on how to win a sample pack of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels.] (Disclaimer: the founders of Kim & Scott’s are family friends and we go way back, but we would love their pretzels even if we didn’t know them.)
We’re currently enjoying a lull in our schedules between basketball and soccer seasons, which, to my delight, means we have a little more time for some hands-on projects at home. One activity that the kids can’t resist is making our own soft pretzels. The entire project takes about 45 minutes, start to finish, and is a great way to knead our troubles away and develop our hand muscles while we make ourselves a delectable snack.
Beyond the traditional twists, our kids like to spell the first letters of their names and experiment with other shapes like spirals and hearts with the stretchy dough. Creativity is a plus with this project!
In addition to our stand-by soft pretzel recipe below, you may enjoy exploring these alternatives:
These pictures from How to Cook Like Your Grandmother are helpful if you’re learning to twist pretzels for the first time.
We originally got this recipe from a bakery called Just Cakes in Bethesda, Maryland, where ironically Celia learned to make pretzels, cookies and breads, in addition to cakes, during a summer cooking camp.
Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels has created a soft pretzel assortment, especially for fans of PBS Parents. The assortment includes their Pizza, Bavaraian, Spinach, and Feta and Grilled Cheese stuffed pretzels. All of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels are all-natural, nut-free and twisted by hand. To be eligible to win a sample pack of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels, just leave a comment below sharing your favorite pretzel memory by Friday, March 18th at 11:59 pm PST: was it on the street, at the ballpark with your kids, etc.? Only one entry per person. U.S. mailing addresses only. A winner will be chosen using Random.org on March 19th. Good luck! THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER, LES123, AS SELECTED BY RANDOM.ORG.
Recipe: Soft Pretzels
A step-by-step guide for making soft pretzels from scratch.
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for the counter)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- Mustard, honey mustard, or melted butter or Cheddar cheese for dipping (Optional)
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the sugar. Let it stand for about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the flour followed by the salt and the remaining 2 cups of flour.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread a thin layer of flour on the counter or a pastry board (or on individual cutting boards or baking sheets if you have many little bakers). Transfer the dough to the counter and knead it for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes elastic and shinier. (This can also be done in a mixer for 4 – 5 minutes but that takes away some of the fun.)
- Divide the dough into 6 – 8 equal parts. Stretch each part into a long thin rope, about 2 feet long and about ½-inch thick, and then twist them into a pretzel shape (or whatever shape you like).
- Place the pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make an egg wash by beating the egg with 2 tsp. of water. With a pastry brush, brush the surfaces of the pretzels with the egg wash, then sprinkle them with a little kosher or sea salt or cinnamon and sugar, if desired.
- Bake them for 12 – 15 minutes until they are golden brown.