Well hello! I hope you had a good day. Mine was a little out of the ordinary but nothing that couldn’t be handled.
Just a typical day of a million and one work things that kept me productive but at the end of the day I felt I had accomplished absolutely nothing. Throwing my hands up and saying how much I seriously hate days like that.
Wiz Kid didn’t fare much better. He’s behind in math again and today he had the focus of a gnat. Oh and I think he has strep throat. Brilliant right?
In other news let’s chat about about food. I like food. I like making it and I like cookin’ it. These precious beauties have been on my mind since the idea struck me back in October when the whole Butter Clan went to the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival.
Disney served up a lot of new dishes you normally can’t find at the parks, but due to
risk of riot popular demand they serve some of their most popular dishes as well; one of which happens to be the Cheddar Cheese Soup from LeCellier at the Canada Pavillion. (that was a lot of nouns).
Moving on. Let me tell you the soup is amazing and when you eat it at the restaurant they serve it with little bites of pretzel bread to dip in the soup. You see where I’m going with this? Come on, pretzels….soup….oh ok, just read the blog title.
Petzel rolls!!! Yes that’s what I said too. How sinfully delicious would it be if the soup was IN the preztel? Thus pretzel rolls to use as bowls were born. At least the concept. The problem is making pretzels seemed scary and intimidating and if we’re being honest here (we are aren’t we?), then Girl Scout swear, I was too chicken to make them. I know I don’t know why? Stupid, it’s just food. What was the worse that could happen? They flop and go to the ducks in the lake? The ducks are only wishing I ruined them. Well I faced down my fears and went for the gold.
Intermission for fun fact about preztels: The origin of pretzels is believed to have it’s roots in Germany, especially when you the name screams “I’m German”, like “Hansel and Gretel” do – serious German going on in those name. Well the name itself came from Germany and stemmed from the word “Bretzel” — roll it off your tongue and you’ll fool any German. Go ahead try it.
Anywho the origin of the bread itself remains a mystery. Some scholars say the pretzel was invented by monks in Italy and others say France. The breads were believed to be a reward for children who finished their prayers and the shape of the pretzel was made to resemble arms folded across the chest in prayer. Another belief is the pretzel is a distant relative to a similar ring shaped bread baked by the Greeks thousands of years ago. Of course the Germans say the pretzel was a creation birthed out of desperation by bakers. I’m sure the origin and ownerships rights to the invention of the pretzel are a hotly debated topic in little villages around Europe. So far we’ve never had a “Pretzel War” but since I imagine one consisting of millions of flying warm pretzels, I’m totally in favor of one. BAKERS TO ARMS!
Resuming our normally scheduled programming.
Pretzels, like bagels, are recognized not only by their shape but also by their texture. The inside is soft and heavenly while the crust is firm and a bit chewy; as opposed to crusty like a baguette. They USED to be recognized by their shape because of their funny little twist but now you can find pretzels as well as bagels in all shapes and sizes. The trick to the chewy texture for both bagels and pretzels is to cook them in a boiling lye bath. I’m not about to risk burning my fingers off so baking soda is a fine substitute and more common these days.
Surprisingly and to my chagrin I found pretzels no more difficult to make than any bread. Waylaying the added step of the baking soda bath they would have been indistinguishable from any other bread rolls.
All the recipes I found used warm water as in a typical bread dough but I was a bit inspired. Here’s another quiz for you. What comes to mind when you think of “men”, “football” and “pretzels”… yep. beer! Maybe it’s those German roots again with the thick lagers and bread or maybe it’s just the visions of men holed away in their man-caves every weekend from August until January but beer and pretzels seem synonymous with both. So considering I had some Guinness left over from the Irishman’s Chocolate Cake made the same day, I thought..hmm let’s warm some of that up and toss it in with the dough. Which is what I did. Gives it a good flavor.
If you make pretzels then anything you’re not going to eat the day it’s cooked, be sure to freeze it pretty quickly. Fresh bread goes stale fairly fast on it’s own but something about the water bath seems to expedite the process with pretzels and bagels. I threw some in the freezer just as they cooled and they were soft and delicious several days later when we finished them off.
So there you go. Now make sure you hang on to these because we’re going to use them to complete my inspiration of soup in the pretzel. The Cheddar Cheese soup recipe will be coming up in a couple of days and you’ll need these babies.
- 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
- ½ cup warm beer
- 4½ cups All purpose flour, about 22oz
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon Active dry yeast
- 2 ounces Unsalted butter, melted
- 8 cups Water
- 2 cups Baking soda
- Pretzel salt or crystalized sea salt.
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Combine the water, beer sugar in bowl and stir. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until foam develops.
- Combine the flour and salt with a whisk.
- Pour the water and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the flour and butter.
- With the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Increase speed to medium speed and mix until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- If dough remains sticky, add additional flour in small increments until smooth and formed.
- Remove the dough and kneed for 1 minute on a floured surface. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl,cover and allow to rise until doubled.
- Preheat the oven to 450*f degrees F.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and brush lightly with oil. -- do not put pretzels directly on aluminum sheets if using these, the baking soda from the wash will ruin them.
- Bring the 8 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an large saucepan or roasting pan.
- In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into equal portions. (The number will depend on the size of the pretzel bowls you like. I ended up with eight.)
- Roll into balls and place on parchment paper. Let rise until water boils or for 10-15 minutes.
- One at a time, place the pretzels into the boiling water for 30 seconds. (you can also dip them for a couple of seconds in the water as well to make them lighter in the oven).
- Remove them from the water using a large slotted spoon and return to the sheet. If using optional egg wash, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture.
- Sprinkle with the pretzel salt.
- Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 20-25 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.