Thursday, July 17, 2008

Twists And Turns

homemade soft pretzels

This is another very kid-friendly activity I wanted to share. Anytime I enter the kitchen and start rattling around to make something now, Bella is at my elbow asking, "IS THIS A KID-FRIENDLY RECIPE?" So I'm trying to make everything "kid-friendly," and this was particularly easy in that regard.

I had the inspiration to make pretzels the other night because we were broke. Seriously. And I couldn't help but wonder if that's not how foods like this came about in the first place, historically. Imagine it--your larder's running low, and it might be a while before you can re-stock. What are you likely to have in abundance? Well, flour, at least, and probably salt...maybe some butter if you have a cow or a goat. This night, in rooting through my pantry, I had plenty of various flours, and a few packets of yeast, but no butter, no milk, and no eggs. Hmmm. What can you bake with flour, water, and salt? PRETZELS! I did have just a splash of olive oil left in the bottom of a bottle, so I used that for the two tablespoons of fat required.

Pretzels are so easy! The next time, I'm probably going to forgo the traditional shape, and make big soft pretzel "sticks" instead, just to keep everything moving along more quickly, and to make the finished product easier to store.

I've posted the detailed recipe and instructions over at Get It Together!, but basically, you make a very simple (and CHEAP!) dough, let it rise once, punch it down and divide it into equal portions. You then shape those equal portions into small balls of dough and let them rise a second time, not touching, on a cookie sheet. All that's left at that point is to shape the pretzels however you like (this is the high point of the kid participation), which involves much rolling out of "snakes," and then boiling the shaped pretzels in a solution of water and baking soda for one minute before setting out on a cookie sheet, salting, and putting in to bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes.

pretzels boiling
I really think it's the boiling in baking soda-water that makes them authentic, and once you try it, you won't argue. I think this method is far superior to the "bake only" method. But don't take my word for it, try it yourself and see what you think.

What are your secrets for filling up bellies when the cupboard is (practically) bare, and payday's a day or two away? (And no, we weren't eating pretzels as MEALS, but they did fill in nicely in between meals for a day or so, and kept Bella from asking repeatedly when we were going to go to the grocery store for more of her favorite yogurt and applesauce snacks.)


  1. Pretzels! One of my most favorite foods, going back to preschool! I almost never do the boiling step, because I'm lazy, but brushing them with a baking soda-water solution gives you almost the same nice crust.

    My current fave recipe uses brown sugar instad of white.

  2. bagels are made the same way, with the same ingredients. and if you've got flour and salt, you can make noodles, too. and dumplings.and of course classic french bread.
    chicken broth with a few dumplings dropped in can be a pretty good lunch (altho, remembering where you live, maybe not so great right now).
    it might be fun for a bella project to learn all the things you can do to feed yourself with just flour and salt and water.

  3. Ninjapoodles, you rawk as always.
    Will make pretzles with chilin' on this mosquito-y day off!

  4. We must be on the same wavelength! I just did a post on my food blog about emergency pre-payday recipes:

    The pretzels look delicious. I live a few blocks away from a pretzel bakery in Philly, so I've never tried making them!

  5. Wait, you mean home made pretzels can't be entire meals? We made some a few weeks ago and had them for dinner.

    I agree about the boiling being a crucial step.

  6. Making me very hungry, as usual these days! We LOVE pretzel bread, and had no idea it was that easy. I think we just might try this one.

    I tagged you for a food meme this week over on my blog, but no pressure, just if you feel like it (perhaps it will help one day with the daily blogging mission).

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