Post #523 It’s a Pretzel Kind of DayFebruary 5, 2017 at 7:37 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Even though we’re now living on the peninsula near the bay on one side and the ocean on the other, and we’ve only lived here for about two and a half years, I’ve lived in this area for nearly 30 years, with brief forays in other cities. So, I know the weather patterns pretty well. Winter is tough to call around here. We generally don’t get much bad weather before January although the temps fall drastically. Then in mid-January, we get what I always call the January thaw. This is a two week period where the temps soar, and the weather gets mild. It confuses the heck out of the birds and the plants. I’ve had roses bloom in the thaw, even had hydrangeas sprout. People who’ve put their lawn mowers away for the winter try to drag them out to get in a couple of clippings.
But it never lasts. We hit February, the one I call the Bitch Month, cuz you just never know what the bitch is gonna throw at you. Usually, if the snow flies, it’s gonna fly in February. It might last through March, but we’ve had snow as late as April that socked in the cities. This year is a little different. The thaw started early, and has lasted a week longer than usual, so far. The temps are down, but way above freezing. Today, I walked the dogs in just a t-shirt. It was a beautiful, comfortable end to the weekend. So, for lunch, I wanted something different. We like to do appetizer meals a lot, so figured for late lunch, it was time to make pretzels.
I love pretzels. I love the skinny salty crunchy ones you buy in the grocery store in one pound bags. I love the giant soft ones you buy in the mall or on the street. I love the pretzel bread and pretzel rolls you can get in specialty shops, and increasingly more often at hamburger restaurants. My favorites, though, are the soft pretzel sticks, usually about four inches long and perfect for dipping into cheese sauce.
So I decided to make pretzels. Good authentic German pretzels. I’ve been to Germany many times, and spent many weekend afternoons wandering through street fairs and markets munching on those glorious giant pretzels. Sometimes they were fresh, and sometimes not so fresh. And then there were the brats and pretzel rolls. Yum!
Here’s the recipe I used. It makes 8 large pretzels and any number of pretzels sticks:
- 3 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 10 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- Coarse salt or pretzel salt
Combine the flour and yeast thoroughly, then add the water. Mix until all the flour is moistened, then knead for about five minutes to form an elastic dough. Add the salt and butter during the kneading process. Don’t worry if the dough falls apart when the butter is added. Continued kneading will bring it back together.
Divide the dough in eight equal pieces and roll into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a towel and allow to rest for five to ten minutes. Roll each ball into a rope 18 inches long tapering it at the ends. Form the pretzel by creating a U with the rope, then cross the ends and twist. Bring the twisted ends down to bend draping the ends over and pushing into the dough. Place them carefully on a large baking sheet but do not crowd them. Use two baking sheets if needed. Allow to rise uncovered in a warm draft-free place for an hour, then put in the fridge uncovered for two hours (you can also leave them there overnight.)
When you’re ready to bake them, preheat your oven to 400. Boil six to ten cups of water and add half a cup of baking soda when it’s boiling. Be careful when adding the baking soda as the water will react. When the oven is ready, carefully slide each pretzel or pretzel stick into the boiling water for 15-20 seconds. I turned mine halfway through the process. Then remove and drain for a moment and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 10-12 minutes. They will be deep brown with a crispy crust and wonderful flavor.
Here’s what I got:
There’s one pretzel and several pretzel sticks missing cuz that’s what I had for late lunch. I dipped them in a spicy cheese sauce I bought at the store. When Partner/Spouse woke up, he also ate several sticks and a pretzel. So good.
I hope you all try these. It sounds complicated but is actually really easy to make. Let me know how yours turn out!