The follow is a post from contributing writer Megan Spires from House of the Rising Sons.
Are you a fan of cooking and baking with your kids? Do you sometimes include it in your lesson plans like we do? If so, then I’m sure you’ve had your share of great experiences and then some you’d rather just forget about. Us too.
One of our very favorite things to do together is bake. We’ve tried all kinds of delicious recipes, from banana breads to chocolate cakes to blueberry cobblers…and we’ve loved them all. However, when I happened upon this really easy-to-make Soft Pretzel recipe in an issue of Highlights Magazine, I got really excited. I knew the educational value of this particular baking process was going to be exactly what I was looking for.
This isn’t one of your run of the mill kind of baking experiences. My boys were more engaged with this recipe and the process of pretzel making than with any other baked good we’ve ever put together.
- Because there were few ingredients, they were able to find and set everything out on their own.
- We worked on math skills while adding up the number of cups of flour needed. Then, they divided them up between the brothers to make it fair and even when it was time to pour things into the mixing bowl. I also asked my oldest to multiply the recipe by three to make enough for our large family.
- I asked them to make both traditional pretzel shapes and then create some of their own shapes.
- We worked on letter formation by creating our first initials and many other letters meanwhile playing a game of “Name all the words you can that start with ____!” Even older children can enjoy this as they think of words that end with the letters they are creating.
- We even included foreign language by learning and signing the American Sign Language signs for all of the ingredients, the baking tools we used along with the numbers and letters we were using during the process.
How to Make Soft Pretzels
What You’ll Need
- coarse salt
- vegetable-oil spray
Before You Begin
- Preheat your oven to 400º.
- Line a cookie sheet with foil, and spray with vegetable-oil spray. I used PAM.
Ready, Set, Create (don’t forget to let the kids do as much of the work as possible EVEN IF IT’S MESSY…they’ll love it!)
- Sprinkle a package of yeast onto ¾ cup of warm water. Add a tablespoon of sugar and stir. Let it stand until the mixture foams. (a bit of a science lesson here)
- Put two cups of flour and ½ teaspoon of salt into a bowl. Add the yeast mixture and stir.
- Sprinkle flour on the counter, and knead the dough until it’s smooth.
- Roll pieces of dough into ropes and make fun shapes, letters and traditional pretzel shapes.
- Beat an egg with a fork. (Yes, let your child crack the egg too.)
- Brush pretzels with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with coarse salt (or other topping).
- Bake the pretzels for 15 minutes or until light brown.
- Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, Parmesan, cocoa powder or other toppings.
- Make a sweet glaze by drizzling baked pretzels with a mixture of confectioners’ sugar and water.
We had so much fun making these Soft Pretzels. The educational value far exceeded my hopes for this baking lesson. We even learned a lot of fascinating history behind the pretzel that my kids really enjoyed.
Did you know that pretzels were invented in AD 610 by a frustrated teacher who decided to make a motivating snack for his distracted students with leftover scraps of bread dough? The monks offered these warm treats as bribes to the children who memorized their Bible verses and prayers. The three tiny holes represented the Christian Trinity while the crisscross shape to them were meant to symbolize a child’s arms folded in prayer.
Why not make up some yummy pretzels with your kids and go learn more pretzel history here.
Megan writes about her amazing journey raising and homeschooling four active boys while sharing her faith at House of the Rising Sons.
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