Saturday, December 4, 2010

Homemade Pretzels

Please tell me you've had a big soft pretzel at some point in your lifetime. If you haven't, you really must take the time to make some and try them. Growing up, we use to make them quite frequently and I can still envision the funny yellow tupperware container that held the nice big chunks of salt that we used for these pretzels.

Interestingly enough, we use to buy soft pretzels pretty often too. Yes, it's an American thing, but I also think it's a very New Yorker thing. That's not to say people in other states don't eat and enjoy pretzels as well! In fact, we use to buy them occasionally from various places, but nothing really compares to making them yourselves.

This is the very book we use to use to make our yummy soft pretzels too. Funny part is, I found this book in a used shop in my town. I was precariously tilting on a step stool learning around a corner checking out the top shelf of a used book store when I grabbed this book and let out a gasp loud enough that Mr S and the shop owner thought I'd fallen. In fact, I'm pretty sure they were both about to say, "I told you so." when I said, "Oh my goodness, look what I found!" Of course, they didn't really understand my enthusiasm or excitement.

I flipped it open and it honestly fell open to this very page! I have no idea who the previous owner was, and I have no idea if they ever used this book. You wouldn't think so considering there's nothing on the pages of the book. The copy I used growing up had a few oil stains, flour, and other bits on it. Signs of a well used and loved cookbook. I ended up pulling the book out earlier this week just so I could make this recipe. The boys were suppose to help, but they got sidetracked by an experiment involving balloons, helium, and magnets. I'm not sure how the experiment worked for them, but I heard screams of, "DON'T OR YOU'LL BLOW IT UP!" which prompted me to say, "You know the rules, we don't blow things up, set them on fire, or throw them out the windows." You can laugh, they did.

In an effort to multi-task I let the breadmaker mix the dough up for me. There was that small issue of children screaming about things blowing up, remember? Yeah, I figured it was a good time to round them up for copywork. That breadmaker actually had some unreasonable reviews written about it, but I quite like it. I make a LOT of bread around here and I'm so grateful to have a machine that can do a huge loaf, because that means it can mix up my normal 2 loaf dough with no issues and then I can bake it in the oven as normal.

I usually let stuff rise in the breadmaker too, but this time I didn't. I need to mix up a batch of regular bread before the men folk around here noticed we were out. Mr S and Jayden have a huge bread thing going on. I was once informed that, "Mom! We're out of bread and milk! It's going to be a horrible day!" Yeah, bread and milk are hot commodities around here. I'm considering turning the front yard into a wheat garden and sticking a mini jersey in the shed..

Break the dough into 16 equal parts. A kitchen scale helps for this part of the task. It also makes a fun math lesson involving measurement, division, and shapes.  Once you've gotten it divided up you get to roll each piece of dough into a snake/log shape. Don't actually say things like, "Check out that cute snake!" or you may cause a child to scream and jump on the table while madly looking around. This, of course, will cause your other child to say, rather indignantly, "Excuse me, but you're on my copywork!"

Shape into a pretzel and then brush lightly with egg or milk and sprinkle salt on. I was out of the nice big chunks of sea salt so we used slightly larger then table salt chunks. No one minded too much. You can also freeze these pretzels after shaping them. Just pop on a cookie sheet in the freezer, without egg or salt on them, and when frozen you can move them to a baggie or container. Simply pull out and brush with egg and cook as normal.

Cook on 180 (350) for 10-15 minutes. They won't be super dark on the outside, lightly golden and the bottoms will be lightly browned. They don't last long, and won't store well at all. The book recommends storing in a container with a lose fitting lid, but trust me leftover soft pretzels just aren't that nice. That's why we only make up enough for now and freeze the rest! 

You should be able to get the whole recipe by clicking on the image of the cookbook at the top. We subbed the sugar for coconut sugar. Normally we'd swap for honey but I was out. That's also a huge offence in this house. Mr S gets a little grumpy when he can't have honey on his morning Weet*Bix, the poor fellow had to settle for vanilla honey this morning because I'm refusing to restock our supply until the 20% off sale on Monday!


Tracey said...

Those look so good! Can you send me one mate?

Katrina said...

What fun! We have never had soft pretzels, I will definately have to try them.