Last night I was hit with the urge to try baking soft pretzels. I've baked a few loaves of bread in my life, so I have the general idea of what to do with dough. I found a recipe online, read a few reviews and tweaked the recipe just a bit here and there. Here is the recipe, along with instructions on how to bake with a baby.
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon Canola oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping
First of all, it is May in Texas and it is abnormally chilly out. I believe the high was supposed to be in the 50s, but I only saw it hit 47 degrees that morning. Refusing to bring out the trusty space heaters, I resort to turning on my oven's self clean mode. It gets toasty enough, but now it is time to get it to cool off a bit. Turn your "space heater oven" off for the time being. As it is about time for the children to get ready for bed, it's time to kick this thing into high gear. While your oldest watches with keen interest, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water in a small bowl. Make your way into the bathroom to prepare toothbrushes for brushing, letting the yeast water stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Don't forget to remind all three of your older children to use the facilities before ushering them into their cloth night training pants.
By this time we've already called their daddy, who is out of town on business this week. We've said our prayers, blew kisses into the phone and have told him we love him. I'm distracted by the need to get the dough put together, so they all run around like headless chickens.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make half hearted attempts to encourage the children to make their way to their bedroom. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Wash your hands, as you've just changed the fourth poopy diaper of the day. Take your wedding band off and stick it on the counter where you won't miss it. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Allow your children to oo and aah over the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Take this time to tuck two children into bed. The oldest and youngest both stay up later. Play with your baby, letting your oldest play Pocket Frogs on your iPad. Post on Facebook about how you're proud that you actual,y followed through with doing something you wanted to do! Nurse your baby and realize with a start "Oh... there's a REASON I don't bake this late in the evening. My baby is tired and will only want me.. and her daddy isn't here to hold her!" Determine then to allow your oldest to stay up later than usual, on the condition that she entertains her sister.
Preheat oven to 415 degrees F. In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water. Let your oldest stir, because she really wants to help and you're still learning to let her explore her limits while not going crazy over doing things "right".
When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 (roughly) equal pieces. Listen to your baby start to fuss. Hurry. Offer up prayers that she'll calm down. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Or get creative and twist them into various shapes. When you're about half way through the batch, take a break to nurse your overtired baby, plopping down on the kitchen floor. She's still tired, but you've gotta get it done. Distract her with Sweet Potato Puffs. Heave a sigh of relief as the silence descends, broken only by your oldest child's giggles at feeding her sister. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Discover you only have enough room for half the pretzels, pop that sucker into the oven and get another cookie sheet from the drawer beneath the stove. Notice there are a few rust spots. Sigh. You take care to avoid them and use the sheet anyhow. If you have the kosher salt (which I did not) here is where you'd sprinkle them.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned. Take the first batch out, run a stick of butter over them and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mix you made the other day to jazz up the cheerios your children begged to have for breakfast. Pop the second batch in. Eat one of the pretzels while it is still nearly too hot to handle. Reward your oldest for her help with the baby by letting her have one, too.
Take pictures and post to Facebook.
(Try desperately to upload them to the blog. Fail. Sorry.)
Proceed to knock the baby out (which you tried to do in the first eight minute window, but it didn't happen), tuck her into her playpen, watch your stories on Netflix and consume three more pretzels while they are still warm.
Vow to do it all over again, this time with the kosher salt and when the baby is already knocked out. Enjoy!
If you'd like to see the original recipe, go here.