Carroty Soft Pretzel Bites
Carroty Soft Pretzel Bites
Pretzels! If the legend is true, the world can thank a frustrated teacher with leftover bread dough for the invention of the soft pretzel. In the year 610, while baking bread, an Italian monk decided to create a treat to motivate his distracted students to learn their prayers. So he rolled out ropes of dough, twisted them to resemble hands crossed on the chest in prayer, and baked them. The monk called his snacks "pretiola," Latin for "little reward." Parents who tasted their children's classroom treats referred to them as "bracchiola," or "little arms." When pretiola arrived in Germany, they were called "brezel." Our pretzels include a healthy secret ingredient, Carrots!
Happy & Healthy Cooking,
Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills
- egg wash :
to brush dough before baking with beaten eggs mixed with milk or water to give the crust additional crispness and sheen.
- grate :
to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).
- knead :
to work dough by pushing, pulling, and folding it by hand or with a stand mixer.
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Large mixing bowl
- Liquid measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Dry measuring cups
- Wooden spoon
- Small bowl
- Pastry brush
Carroty Soft Pretzel Bites
- 1 package (1 T) active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 C lukewarm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tsp honey/sugar
- 4 C all-purpose flour + more for sticky dough **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
- 1 small carrot
- 1 egg, beaten **(Omit for EGG ALLERGY)**
- kosher salt for sprinkling on top
Food Allergen Substitutions
Carroty Soft Pretzel Bites
- Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour.
- Egg: Omit egg wash. If desired, lightly brush a little oil or melted butter on the pretzel dough before baking.
Carroty Soft Pretzel Bites
dissolve + combine
Dissolve 1 package of active dry yeast in 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl for 3 minutes. Then have kids add in 3 teaspoons of honey, 1 teaspoon salt, and 4 cups of flour.
mix + rise
Mix the dough together and set to the side to rise for a bit—the longer it sits, the better!
grate + separate
Have kids grate 1 carrot. (If making Crazy Carrot Cheese Dip (see recipe), grate a second carrot and make the dip while waiting for the dough to rise.)
preheat + knead
Preheat your oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the dough is ready, add half of the grated carrot to the dough and take turns with your kids kneading the dough by hand for 5 to 10 minutes. Add flour as needed to reduce stickiness. Divide the dough into 12 sections and have your kids roll it out into long skinny snakes, ropes, or worms. As your children work with the dough, it will become stickier.
crack + brush
Have kids crack 1 egg and beat it in a small bowl. Once they've rolled out the dough into long shapes, invite your kids to brush the dough with the beaten egg using a pastry brush to make the pretzels shiny when they bake!
Finally, have kids sprinkle the top of the egg-washed dough with just a little kosher salt.
shape + bake + dip
Have kids form their snakes, ropes, or worms into a fun shape on the lined baking sheet. The shape doesn't matter—the pretzels will taste delicious no matter how they look! Next, slide the tray into the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Then dip the pretzels into the Carrot Cheese Dip, drink with Lucky Lemon Soda (see recipe), and enjoy!
Hi! I'm Carrot!
“I'm at the root of this recipe! Get it? Root? Carrots are root vegetables! We grow up in dark and cozy soil. Our leaves get plenty of sunshine, though. If you grow us, it's so satisfying to pull us out of our underground home and know you'll be tasting our crunchy sweetness very soon. But you may want to wash us first! You can eat carrots raw or cook them first. Either way, you'll enjoy our flavor, texture, and color in salads, savory dishes, and desserts, like carrot cake!"
- Before carrots were orange, they were purple, red, white, and yellow. In the 16th century (after the Middle Ages), Dutch carrot growers invented the orange carrot in honor of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family (for Kings and Queens). They did this by crossbreeding pale yellow carrots with red carrots.
- Carrots soon caught on in England as both a food and a fashion accessory. For example, it's said that ladies in the 1600s would decorate their hats with carrot tops instead of feathers!
- The carrots we eat today were domesticated from a wild carrot native to Europe and southwestern Asia.
- No one knows exactly how old carrots are, but history traces them back about 5,000 years. They were mistaken for parsnips before the carrot was identified as a distinct vegetable. Carrots and parsnips are related but from different families. Parsnips are white and look a lot like carrots. They're also root vegetables!
- When carrots were first grown many hundreds of years ago, farmers prized them for their aromatic leaves and seeds—not just the roots!
- According to some sources, carrots are the second most popular vegetable in the world, behind just one other. Can you guess what's number one? Potatoes!
- The longest carrot ever recorded was over 20 feet long! (The measurement included the taproot's long, skinny end.) The heaviest carrot recorded weighed over 22 pounds!
- You may think rabbits love carrots naturally, and this is largely because of the popularity of the wise-cracking and charming cartoon rabbit character named Bugs Bunny. We see Bugs Bunny munching on a carrot in most scenes. In reality, if a rabbit ate a whole carrot, it would be like you or me eating 20 carrots in one sitting! Way too much! Here's another fun fact: The voice of Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc, reportedly did not like carrots at all.
Anatomy & Etymology
- Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family, named for their resemblance to an umbrella when their leafy green stems are attached. This family includes celery, parsnip, fennel, dill, and coriander.
- Carrots are root vegetables, meaning they grow underneath the ground. Their feathery leaves grow above the ground. Can you think of other root vegetables? A few of them are beets, onions, turnips, potatoes, radishes, parsnips, fennel, garlic, and jicama.
- You can eat every part of the carrot. Typically we eat the root part of the plant, but the stems and leaves are edible, too! A carrot's root can grow anywhere from 2 to 20 inches long before it's picked!
- Carrots like to grow in cooler climates, not tropical, hot places. For this reason, they are usually grown in the autumn, winter, and spring months.
- Baby carrots sold in grocery stores started as long carrots that were sliced and tumbled into smaller pieces to make them "baby-sized."
- Carrot seeds are tiny. Find a teaspoon. How many carrot seeds do you think will fit inside? About 2,000!
- A carrot plant will live for two years, meaning new crops need to be planted from seed every two years.
- There are two main classes of carrots: Western and Eastern. The Western class includes four types, classified by their root shape: Chantenay, Danvers, Imperator, and Nantes. Several cultivars (varieties created by selective breeding) exist under each type. Many varieties have different colors than the typical orange. How many colors have you seen? The next time you're in the grocery store, look for these diverse carrots.
- The English word "carrot" comes from the Greek word "karoton."
How to Pick, Buy, & Eat
- One large carrot or a handful of baby carrots counts as one vegetable serving. Aim for three servings of veggies a day for kids and five servings for adults.
- Carrots can be eaten raw, roasted, juiced, boiled, mashed, or steamed. However, they are most nutrient-dense when cooked and eaten with fat like butter or oil.
- When you eat a carrot, how does it taste? Modern carrots have been bred to be sweet, which is why we often use them in baked goods like carrot cake! On the other hand, ancient carrots were bitter, not sweet.
- Look for firm, brightly colored carrots with smooth, firm skin. Carrots that are limp or black near the top are not fresh.
- Thicker carrots may be older and tougher to eat, whereas thinner carrots are typically younger, fresher, and sweeter.
- Store carrots in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where they will keep for a few weeks!
- One of the tastiest, easiest ways to cook carrots is to toss them with melted butter, salt, honey, and garlic, then roast them at 425 F for 20 minutes.
- You can grate raw carrots and add them to salads or chop them to add to soups or stews. If you boil or steam carrots, you then puree them to add to breads, cookies, cakes, or even tomato sauce to sweeten it. Carrots add natural sweetness to whatever recipe they're in (and a pretty orange color, too!).
- Eyes! The color of a fruit or vegetable tells us what nutrient it contains (nature is amazing!). Orange vegetables and fruits have a particular nutrient called beta carotene. Beta carotene was named for the carrot itself! This nutrient converts to vitamin A inside the body, which is good for our eyes! Studies have shown that only three percent of beta carotene is released from the raw vegetable when we digest it. But this percentage can be improved when we juice or puree raw carrots or cook them with fat like butter or oil. Carrots have the most beta carotene of any vegetable!
- Teeth! The crunchiness of carrots helps clean the plaque off your teeth and gums, just like your toothbrush! Of course, this doesn't mean eating a carrot at the end of the day can substitute for brushing your teeth! Carrots also have minerals that protect the teeth.
- Purple carrots include anthocyanin, an antioxidant, just like purple eggplants, blueberries, and other colorful fruits.
- As with all vegetables, eating carrots helps protect us from getting sick!
History of Pretzels!
- In the 1,400 years since the pretzel was invented, bakers around the world have come up with a wide variety of shapes and flavors. The history of this adaptable snack shows its versatility.
- The pretzel has been considered a good-luck symbol for a long time. In the 16th century, pretzels decorated Christmas trees in Austria and were hidden along with hard-boiled eggs on Easter. In Germany, children would wear pretzel necklaces on New Year's Day.
- According to a legend, during a siege of Vienna in the 1500s, pretzel bakers working before dawn heard Ottoman Turks tunneling under Vienna's city walls, alerted the authorities, and helped fight the invaders. Their alarm saved the city, and the Austrian emperor awarded the bakers an honorary coat of arms. The crest has a crown at the top to denote the royal gift. Below are two lions to honor the bakers' courage, and between them is a large pretzel. Signs with this coat of arms may still be seen today hanging in front of European pretzel bakeries.
- There is a legend that in early 17th century Switzerland, royal newlyweds would make a wish and break a pretzel to seal their marriage, in the same way people in other cultures break a wishbone or a glass. The phrase "tying the knot" may have originated from this tradition.
- Germans immigrants brought pretzels to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and Julius Sturgis opened the first commercial pretzel business there in 1861. He also claimed to have made the first hard pretzel.
- Over a billion dollars worth of pretzels are sold in the United States annually, and 80 percent of them are made in Pennsylvania. The average US citizen eats up to two pounds of pretzels per year.
- Pretzels have evolved to include different shapes, like twists, sticks, and nuggets; flavors, like mustard and cinnamon; coatings like chocolate and yogurt; and fillings, like peanut butter and cheese.
- In 2019, Geoffrey Esper broke the Malted Barley Pretzel speed-eating record by eating 26 pretzels in 8 minutes.
- The Guinness World Record for the largest pretzel ever produced weighed 1,728 pounds and was 29 feet 3 inches long and 13 feet 3 inches wide! A bakery in San Salvador, El Salvador, made the pretzel in 2015.
Let's Learn About Germany!
- The central European country of Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is known as "Deutschland" (DOYCH-lunt) in the German language. It is a federal parliamentary republic with a president, a chancellor (the head of the government), and a legislature.
- Germany has over 83 million people in an area of 137,847 square miles, a little smaller than the U.S. state of Montana.
- The capital and largest city in Germany is Berlin, but only since 1990 when East and West Germany reunified. Before that, East and West Germany were divided by the Berlin Wall, built after World War II to keep Eastern citizens from fleeing to the West. The Berlin Wall kept the two sides of Germany separated for 28 years. The wall finally crumbled in November 1989, and you can see segments of the original wall in many places in Germany and other countries.
- Germany was the first country in the world to adopt Daylight Savings Time. This was done in 1916 during World War I to conserve fuel.
- Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Germany, and the German Football Association is the largest single-sport league worldwide. Motorsports are also big in Germany, with three well-known German carmakers heavily involved, BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche.
- Hamburg, Germany, has the most bridges in the world. The city has more than 2,300 bridges!
- In Germany, undergraduate university education is free, even to international students. Although a few programs are taught in both English and German, a student would need a firm knowledge of the German language to attend most universities. Germany also has a vocational education system that combines learning with company apprenticeships.
- Germany is known for its sausages, and some, like "bratwursts" or "brats," are popular in the United States. Over 850 million "currywursts" (curry sausages sold on the street) are eaten in Germany per year! Bread, cheese, and beer are also significant parts of German cuisine.
- During World War II, Coca-Cola syrup could not come into the country due to a US trade embargo with Nazi Germany. This resulted in the company's German division inventing Fanta soda, what we now know as an orange soda. However, the modern version was developed in Italy in the 1950s. They initially made the early German version with whey (the liquid left after making cheese), apple pomace (the pulp left from making apple juice), and beet sugar.
- The Autobahn is a famous access highway in Germany. It is over 8,000 miles long, and many parts have no enforceable speed limit. People travel from around the world to drive fast cars on the Autobahn. It's illegal to run out of gas on this highway!
What's It Like to Be a Kid in Germany?
- In Germany, often both parents work, and every child under three can go to daycare. Kids can start kindergarten from 3 to 5 years old.
- On the first day of first grade, parents give their children a giant cone filled with toys, candy, and school supplies. The school cone is called a "schultüte," celebrating an important rite of passage in their young lives.
- Popular sports for youth include football (soccer), handball, and gymnastics. Kids primarily participate in a sport through a sports club, and there are thousands of sports clubs in Germany for almost every sport.
- German kids can visit one of the biggest zoos in the world, the Zoologischer Garten Berlin (Berlin Zoological Garden). Although its size isn't the largest, it houses the most animal species worldwide. The zoo opened in 1844 and its aquarium in 1913.
- There are several amusement and theme parks in Germany, and if kids are familiar with stories from the Brothers Grimm, families can drive the German Fairy Tale Route (Deutsche Märchenstraße) that runs 370 miles. The route passes through scenic nature parks and charming villages, and several places on the way relate to the fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood's house, Sleeping Beauty's castle, and the Pied Piper's town of Hamelin. Speaking of castles, you can also visit the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps, which may have inspired Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.