Plump, chewy and a little bit sweet and salty-these healthy pretzels have it all. We used white whole wheat flour because it has a more kid-friendly taste than its cousin, regular whole wheat, and more fiber than all-purpose flour. For little and big kids: Let them help measure ingredients, roll and shape the pretzels and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.
Note to parents: Never leave a child unattended in the kitchen. These recipes are appropriate for children of various ages, 4 to 10. When a recipe calls for cooking on the stove or using a paring knife, an adult should do those activities and let the child assist, if age appropriate.When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
Combine 2 cups warm water (110 to 115ºF), butter pieces and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk together the flour, raisins, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a large bowl.
Add half the flour mixture to the yeast, and mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour, increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until the dough gathers around the hook and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Once this happens, continue to beat until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes more. Remove the dough ball, butter the inside of the bowl, return the dough ball to the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Position 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray generously with cooking spray. Punch down the dough, and cut it in half. Divide each half into twelve even pieces, and cover with a towel.
Roll each piece of dough into an 18-inch rope, working from the middle out. (It helps to hold the dough ends and slap the center of the length on the counter as you stretch and roll.) Make a U shape with one of the dough ropes, lift the ends and twist in the center twice; fold the ends over and down, and pinch to secure them to the bottom of the U to finish the pretzel shape. Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature until the pretzels rise slightly, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine 10 cups water and the baking soda in a large, wide pot, and bring to a low simmer (190 to 200ºF), whisking until the baking soda dissolves. Stir together the granulated sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl.
Cut the parchment paper with scissors around each pretzel. Leaving the pretzel on the paper (so it keeps its shape while transporting to the simmering water), remove the pretzels from the baking sheets. Reline each baking sheet with parchment, and spray generously with cooking spray.
Put each pretzel, top-down, into the simmering water, and remove the paper. Simmer until the pretzels plump, about 1 minute. Carefully flip the pretzels, and continue to simmer 45 seconds more. Remove each with a slotted spoon, shake off excess liquid, place on the prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake the pretzels until they’re a few shades darker and the bottoms are nicely browned, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating about halfway through. Brush with the melted butter.
Store the pretzels at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze them for up to 1 month (let thaw at room temperature).