When I was growing up, I have vivid memories of baking two things with my mom: homemade white bread and homemade pretzels. There were plenty of other dishes that we helped prepare, but those two things remind me of my childhood. (And how is it that I have zero memories of my mom freaking out on me for sneezing in the dough or making a mess? Is that just me? Am I the only mom who has a love/hate relationship with kids in the kitchen? But I digress. That’s a post for another time.) Naturally, when I grew up and had kids of my own, I attempted to recreate the magic. We make pretzels like it’s my job, and I use my mom’s old recipe. I’ve tried other recipes (Ones that involve boiling. Yikes. Ain’t nobody got time for that.) I keep coming back to this one. It’s so, so simple. It comes together in minutes, and the kids just love being allowed to make any shape they want. Their favorites? Starfish, hearts, snails, and rocks. Now that we’re a family of 6, I double the recipe. One day, I had dough left over so I put it in the fridge. The next day, desperate for a last minute meal idea, I pulled out the pretzel dough, rolled it out on a thin cookie sheet, and used it as pizza dough. Voila! The perfect pizza crust was born. Trust me. If you like crispy, but chewy, pizza crust, this one is for you! And who doesn’t like a recipe that does double duty?!
1 pkg yeast
4 cups flour (I use a white whole wheat and unbleached flour blend)
3/4 tsp salt
1.5 cups warm water
1.5 tsp sugar or honey
1 egg white, beaten
Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Add salt and flour. Knead until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise for one hour. (You can skip this step if you’re desperate, but trust me: they’re so much better after a rise!) If you’re making pretzels, divide the dough in to about 18 pieces and roll in whatever shape you like. Place on a buttered cookie sheet. Paint with eggwhite and sprinkle liberally with salt. Bake at 400 until golden brown. (About 15 minutes) If you’re making pizza crust, preheat the oven as hot as it gets. Mine goes to 525ish. Generously oil a cookie sheet. (I really think a thin metal cookie sheet does the best. It allows the crust to get crispy on the bottom.) Roll the dough out so it is fairly thin, but watch out for holes! Poke it with a fork all over. Pre-bake the crust just for a few minutes until it no longer looks doughy. Take it out, add your toppings, and put it back in until that cheese is bubbly and browning.