Thursday, April 26, 2012
I saw on the news that today just happens to be the annual event known as "Pretzel Day." Were you aware? Me neither. My very first thought was, "Ugh. I haven't done yoga in forever." Back in the good old days, I'd shove the futon out of the way, do a ceremonial sweeping of my sacred-enough space, roll out the mat, and get on with a series of lovely Sanskrit named moves seemingly designed to torture and contort one into an ethereal 'om' sort of daze. It worked. I was pretty good at twisting myself into a pretzel back then.
Sadly, what was once a literal and figurative exercise in meditation and self-care has become a noisy reminder of my ever increasing age punctuated with a startling number of cracks, pops, and creaks emanating from various joints: hips, knees, and otherwise. Maybe if I practiced my yoga skills more than once every 6 months, this wouldn't be the case, but as it is now, I don't see my yoga-for-30-somthings video making its grand debut anytime soon.
So for now, let's forget about that sort of twisting, and instead focus on the sort of pretzeling that we can all enjoy.
1 1/3 C of water that feels ever so slightly warm to the touch.
1 packet or equivalent of yeast (2 1/4 ts)
1 tbs of brown sugar
4 C of flour
1 ts of kosher salt (+more for sprinkling on before they go in the oven)
1 egg yolk
1 large pot of water w/ 3/4 C of baking soda dissolved in it and brought to a simmer
Add slightly warm water and brown sugar to the mixer's mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the yeast on top.
Go outside, talk to your neighbor, forget what you were doing, remember, go inside and yeast will have dissolved and turned into an island of foam floating on the water (10 minutes).
Whisk salt and flour in large mixing bowl, and add to mixer using the dough hook on low speed to combine.
After dough is fully combined, increase speed to low-medium and knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Cover and let rise for an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the baking soda water bath you will be giving these pretzels. Fill pot up to about the level of the rivets that attach the handles. Add baking soda, bring to a simmer, and have ready for when pretzels are shaped and ready to go.
When dough has finished rising, scoop it out of the bowl, divide the dough into 1/8s (divide it in 1/2 then divide the halves into halves, then do that one more time-- instead of trying to eyeball what an 1/8 is.).
Roll into snakes a little longer than a foot.
Twist into pretzel shape. Gently float 4 at a time into the baking soda bath (the German's use lye-- crazy!) and simmer for about 20 seconds while spooning water over the top of the floating pretzel.
Carefully remove and place on silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
After all pretzels are bathed, brush them with the egg yolk, sprinkle with salt (or cinnamon sugar if you'd prefer) and bake at 425° for about 15 minutes. By the way, these may make the best sandwich rolls ever.
So remember, there's more than one way to be flexible. Now go share some of your pretzels with the neighbors and worry about your sun salutes later.