The Ms love to participate in the kitchen – it’s an easy place to keep them occupied, involved, and there is so much to learn! Big M has known all her letters for awhile but is just beginning to learn to write them, while Lil’ M is just learning them to begin with. So this week, we made one of my favorite recipes, homemade soft pretzels, and formed them into Edible Pretzel ABCs.
Edible Pretzel ABCs
I started making homemade soft pretzels for our family’s annual Oktoberfest about 5 years ago. After a trip to the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest in Munich, we realized they were a key feature missing from our family party. I found this super easy recipe by Alton Brown. It uses a handful of basic ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter), and instead of dipping the pretzels in lye before baking, you can use baking soda in boiling water.
Typically, I only make them once a year and make 50+! But they are so delicious, and the girls love to help in the kitchen so much, I thought this would be a great recipe to try with them.
They could form shapes with the dough – in this case ABCs – and learn about the science behind bread. Big M was fascinated when I told her the yeast is alive and will eat the sugar in the water and help the bread grow.
Your dough is ready when it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Now the toughest part for little ones – waiting for it to rise! I set the bowl on top of the pre-heating oven to keep it warm and help it along. When we took it out to form the pretzels, Big M talked about how it felt: warm, squishy, and soft.
I used a pizza cutter to split the dough into 6 even sections. Then we rolled it into long snakes to form our letters. I let Big M pick the letters we made. She started out with A, B, C, D… but when I pointed out we didn’t have enough to make the entire alphabet, she picked two of her favorites – M and Q.
Once the letters are made, here comes the tricky part. You have to dip the pretzels into boiling water with baking soda. This is what makes them crispy on the outside, and soft and spongy on the inside whey you bake them.
I recommend using a slotted spatula to lower them into the water, flip them, lift them out and place them on your baking sheets. I did this without any child assistance.
Next came Big M’s favorite part – painting and sprinkling! We painted the pretzels with egg yolk (this helps them brown) and then sprinkled them with pretzel salt. Now, in 5 years of making these, I have never been able to find pretzel salt at the grocery store. I always settled for kosher salt flakes. I finally decided to search for pretzel salt online, and of course, Amazon had it!
Finally, they were ready for the oven. And just a few minutes later – Voila! A tasty, afternoon snack.
Big M, true to character, liked them plain – but Lil’ M was all about dipping them in mustard, like a true Yankee! They keep asking when we are going to make them again – Big M wants to make her full name next time!
What are some of your favorite family recipes? What recipe do your kids like to help you make most? If you enjoyed this post, you can check out all our cooking with kids posts here, and find all our favorite recipes on our Gotta Eat! and Cooking with Kids boards on Pinterest.
For more awesome hands-on learning ideas for preschoolers, be sure to check out ABCs and 123s, our latest collaborative ebook, featuring 40+ ideas to teach the alphabet and math skills through play!