We recently made our first batch of homemade pretzels. I used this recipe, but I substituted one cup of whole wheat flour. The dough was a bit salty for my liking, so I may try an alternate recipe next year. However, overall I was pleased with the activity and so were the girls.
Before we donned our aprons and hit the kitchen, I recounted the history of the pretzel. Long ago in the Roman Empire, the rules for Lenten fasting were very strict, and Christians were not allowed to eat any animal by-products including eggs and dairy products. Many people made a simple bread from water, salt, and flour during the fast. Historians believe a monk was the first to fashion the dough into a shape of a pretzel to imitate arms crossed in prayer. Some believe the monk doled out the pretzels to children as a reward for their Lenten sacrifices or for learning their prayers. Nowadays many families have adopted the custom of making homemade pretzels during Lent to remind them of the importance of prayer and fasting during the season.
It’s also quite a penance to knead the stiff dough. :-) Madeline worked very hard at kneading and then crafting her dough “worm” that would eventually be fashioned into a pretzel. When we pulled the pretzels out of the oven, we immediately brushed them with melted butter. My toddler enjoyed “painting” the pretzels. The recipe made six pretzels, so we sprinkled half with cinnamon sugar and used Kosher salt on the remaining three. We all agreed that the salty pretzels were the best.
This a perfect recipe for children because even the smallest of hands can knead the dough and apply butter on the pretzels with a pastry brush. The pretzels are best served warm fresh out of the oven and make for a tasty afternoon snack. I even reserved some of the plain, cooked dough (before it was embellished with salt or cinnamon) for the baby, and she enjoyed gnawing on it.
Comments closed for Lent.