Earlier today someone told me she loves to cook, but baking doesn’t appeal to her because it is too exact and scientific. When someone shares their fear of working with yeast, I tell them yeast is very forgiving. Adding water that’s too hot can kill the yeast, but beyond that, measurements mostly have to do with the feel of the dough. And that takes practice. I prefer kneading by hand rather than machine so I can know the dough and learn how it is reacting to the environment.
I was thrilled when making pretzels today with our third through fifth grade students at church. Many of them remembered making pretzels last year for World Communion, so they have grown in dough knowledge. A few commented, upon entering the kitchen, how they loved the smell of the dough. We practiced relaxing the gluten, rolling the dough into 17-inch long ropes, shaping them into horseshoes, twisting the ends, and bringing them up to form praying arms with three holes symbolizing the Trinity. Each pretzel bathed in a baking soda and egg white wash before adding salt and baking. The students were captivated, cooperative, and inquisitive. I try to remember how important it is to create opportunities such as this; experiences engaging all of our senses, helping us teach and form positive impressions on our children.