Mr. Gateau is constantly working late or going on business trips, leaving me with the two petit Gateaux to care for, entertain, and amuse. Thus, finding ways to combine nourishment with fun is a win-win for this exhausted mother (the other win-win is the website I found containing scans of all the local take-out menus). It occurred to me that it would be fun and tasty to make soft pretzels. And I was right.
Pretzel dough is great because, although yeasted, you don't let it rise until you've shaped them, so there is a lot of instant gratification, if you want it, along with getting to squish it with your hands and/or punch its lights out, which is a nice perq, if, for example, you spent your entire week at work saving your clients from themselves. If you don't want to shape them right away, you can stick the dough in the fridge overnight. Shaping them is like working with springy clay, and the more you squash it and squeeze it, the more integrated and workable it becomes, which is excellent with a five year old. Also, you get to use a pastry brush to paint them with egg wash, and sprinkling happens. We just used coarse salt, but you can get all fancy with parmesan or sesame seeds or cinnamon sugar if you want to.
I had only a cup of white flour left in the house, so it was 1/3 white and 2/3 whole wheat, which turned out fine, and I feel less diet-guilty for cramming them into my mouth at regular intervals since they came out of the oven last night. Which means we'll have to make more soon. Real soon.