I love involving Ethan in preparing meals, just as I like to try to involve him as much as possible in grocery shopping (not that the occasional shopping trip sans kids doesn't feel more like a vacation than anything else). Especially when it comes to produce or food he can recognize, I like for him to learn what ingredients team up to make something delicious or the basic workings of a kitchen. As he gets older, he has really started to enjoy helping me "cook." I try to utilize his help the most when it comes to the prep work or, if it's a crock pot day, throwing everything into the crock pot. The only downside to cooking with Ethan is that he's awfully impatient when it comes to cook time so explaining to him that the ingredients he's tossed into the crock pot will be ready in, say, eight hours, is enough to cause one heck of a meltdown.
For that reason, I like to make sure we throw in some snacks when it comes to our shared time in the kitchen. He's pretty much mastered the art of the kale chip at this point, and we've been making a whole lot of brussel sprout "chips." (Kid has no idea what a potato chip is, but add "chip" to the end of anything that comes out of the oven and he's going to inhale it. Human nature, or something.)
These soft pretzels not only take fifteen minutes to bake and a short ten minute cool-off period (or that is, ten minutes until Ethan deemed them cool enough to inhale), but they're also made with recognizable everyday ingredients. They're yeast free, so that helped in Ethan being able to name all of the ingredients and feel comfortable working with them. This dough really didn't need to be mixed with an electronic mixer, but Ethan loves when we're able to use the stand mixer so I humored him. He especially loved kneading the dough, forming it into balls, rolling it out into "snakes" and then making the pretzel shape. Which, of course, he totally nailed:
(I can't laugh too much. Mine weren't much better.)
Here's what you need:
2 cups flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/3c whole milk
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
...And your choice of pretzel topping. I'm obnoxiously anti-salt thanks to the engrained teachings of my salt-o-phobic mother and I had a few pinches of organic brown sugar left in the bag so we went with cinnamon and sugar.
First thing is mix the room temperature or slightly melted butter into the flour. It should look a little crumbly. Next, add the baking powder, salt, sugar and mix. Slowly add the milk while checking the consistency of the dough. You might not need all of the milk -- you don't want your dough to be sticky, but you also don't want it to be dry. (We ended up using an additional splash of milk than what was required in the recipe because our dough was, for some reason, super dry.)
Form your pretzels and brush the beaten egg onto the tops. (Ethan loved the egg wash step.) Sprinkle on your topping of choice and then bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Ethan's pretzels were my favorite!