The first thing we had to do was proof the yeast. Conan thought it was really interesting to watch the yeast wake up and start making bubbles once we added it to the warm water. He loved the idea that there were tiny "sleeping" organisms in the yeast packet that would wake up and make bubbles.
Then we mixed the flour in to the dough, kneaded it for a couple minutes, and then it was time for the good part: rolling it out.
A long snake cut into 5 peices makes a starfish shape.
We also made a number of other shapes: twists, knots, loops and even logs! Once the pretzels were shaped, we painted them (lightly!) with egg, and then sprinkled them with salt before putting them in the oven to bake.
Ta-da! They came out great. Despite (or perhaps because of) the extensive and enthusiastic handling of the dough, the pretzels were tender and delicious, with a nice crisp crust. We'll be making them again & again!
The recipe is:
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
3/4 tsp table salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
4 c. flour
2 tbsp. coarse salt (for sprinkling on top)
Stir the sugar and table salt into the warm water. Mix in the yeast and let it sit until the yeast begins to foam
Stir the flour into the liquid gradually until it is all incorporated into the dough.
Knead the dough until it is elastic, about 2 minutes.
Portion the dough (we found splitting it into about 8 pieces made pretzels about the right size). For starfish, roll each portion into a long rope, then cut the rope into 5 pieces about 3 inches long. Stick them together into a star shape on a baking sheet.
Beat the egg. Lightly paint the pretzels with the egg, then sprinkle with the coarse salt.
Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.