Tomorrow is my turn to bring a snack for my preschooler’s spring camp—we’re on spring break, hence the dearth of posting—and we’re bringing homemade pretzels. My friend Susan makes these with her two sons, who are old enough to help roll out the dough and shape the pretzels. The technique is a bit beyond Tiny G’s abilities at the ripe old age of 2 1/2, but I thought he could handle sprinkling on the sesame seeds. Made with love, these pretzels were a huge hit here tonight. Let’s see how they play out at camp tomorrow.
Based on a recipe from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 12 pretzels [Foodinista Note: I made 16 smaller pretzels since they were destined for tiny hands.]
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt or sesame seeds
Mix together the yeast, honey, salt, flour and water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the dough hook, knead at low speed until a smooth, elastic ball forms (the dough will be quite stiff), about 5 to 7 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours. Punch the dough to deflate, cover again and let rise again until double its size, another 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack at the middle position. Pour 6 cups of water into a 12-inch skillet, adding the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray generously with vegetable cooking spray.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (about 2 ounces each). Roll each piece into a 20-inch long, 1/2-inch-wide rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel and place on prepared baking sheet.
Using a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, gently place the shaped pretzels into the boiling water (you should be able to fit 3 or 4), top side down, and boil for 30 seconds. Use tongs to turn the pretzels over and boil for another 30 seconds.
Using slotted spoon, remove from water draining well and then place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pretzels. The pretzels will not rise very much in the oven so you should be able to fit them all on one large baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt or sesame seeds.
Bake for 12-16 minutes, until the pretzels are well-browned.
Transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. These are best on the day they are baked, but can be stored for two days in an airtight container.