Thursday, December 1, 2011

Story Time Cooks: Pretzels and Preschoolers

Made a test batch of dough at home for my girls!
Through the years I have loved cooking a preschool story times, but the library I work in has no oven. A fridge yes, a dishwasher that doesn't work, but no oven.

We did make mini apple cinnamon donuts some weeks ago with the donut baker I inherited from my late, much missed, mother-in-law. But unless I someday lay my hands on a convection oven, baking is out.

But we can make dough and I can send it home with instructions for home baking, provided it doesn't need a long resting time. And this pretzel recipe, similar to what you might get at the mall, works perfectly:

Pretzels For Preschoolers

Open 3 packages of active yeast.
Pour it into a large bowl. Let the kids smell it--yeast has a strong, beerlike smell that some will like and some won't!
Add 4 Tbs of sugar and  1 1/2 cups of warm water \
Make sure the water is warm--about 110 degrees F. Not tepid, not boiling, or your yeast won't work.

Let everyone take a turn stirring.
Wait about 5 minutes (I sent the kids off to wash their hands), and you will see that the yeast has become foamy.

Add 3 3/4 cups of flour.
I premeasured the flour into a large container and let the kids take turns dipping out a small amount and adding it to the bowl. They also took turns stirring it in.

A wet dough will form. Add a little extra flour and knead the dough.
Even the kids who normally DON'T like to get their hands dirty liked doing this!

Send the kids off to wash their hands again. Add a little corn or canola oil to the bowl and turn the dough to coat it lightly.

Cover the dough, wash your own hands, and head into story hour for about 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into zip-lock bags.
I had about 20 kids and was able to give each a piece about the size of a golf ball.

Send the kids home with baking instructions:

Heat oven to 450 degrees F
Pinch off bits of dough, roll into long "snakes", then shape any way you like.
Place on a greased/parchment covered baking sheet. 
Brush with a little butter, sprinkle with salt or sugar if desired.
Bake for 8-12 minutes until golden brown.

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