Thursday, July 16, 2009
Curly Wurlys, that's what we call them, Hub and I. It's so much easier than saying Pretzels.
I always thought pretzels were hard crispy and shiny little biscuits in that weird shape that we, as children, used to dig for out of a deep blue, Danish Butter Cookie tin along with the butter cookies, some of which were made in the same weird shape. The Danish Cookie tin was 'the' cookie brand at the time when Famous Amos did not exist, when festive cookies were not yet sold commercially all over town, when young wives and mothers convened on an agreed friend's home to make cookies by the hundreds if not thousands together.
It was a time when the husband of the friend whose house was swarmed would conveniently move out of the way, disappear or pop his head in every now and then to banter and tease his wife and her friends and occasionally stretch out an intruding arm to steal a cookie. It was a time when all kinds of cookies were baked, not on baking tins, but on the flat aluminium lids of aluminium pots. Sometimes we, the girl kids, would help by swiping butter on the lids before the cookie doughs were shaped and placed on them or in between baking one batch of cookies and the next.
It was a time of laughter, jokes, bantering, teasing, gossip and loads and loads and loads of cookies and their killer smells. So, as you can imagine, every household belonging to the same group of friends would be serving those very cookies to each other when the house to house visits begin on the big day. No matter which house you visited within the group you'd be having the cookies that you made together. Strange.
It was a time when it was unimaginable to buy festive cookies. It was also a time when there were no such things as Auntie Anne's, Cinnabon, Famous Amos, Dunkin' Donuts and God knows what else.
The 'Danish Cookies' in that deep blue, 'branded', round tin was the ultimate in gift giving, in hampers or as a treat where a flurry of small scrambling hands would be inside of it fighting amoung the different butter cookies and the plain crispy pretzels. The butter cookies would be finished within minutes, the paper cases scattered along with crumbs all over the table and the floor and the poor pretzels, the poor dark brown plain not sweet pretzels would be left behind not quite devoured.
And that was what I thought pretzels were until Auntie Anne's sprung up all over the place like Jacks in boxes with these large soft bread-like curly wurlies in that familiar weird shape that they called pretzels.
So pretzels they are and these are the kind of pretzels I love. Soft, large and bready that makes me habitually falter before I eat it. I'm always not quite sure which end to sink my teeth into so that I don't get the anticipated half empty feeling in my mouth when only a curly strip of Auntie Anne's pretzel snuggles into the back of my mouth leaving the front half empty. So I was quite happy when I made these pretzels and they were fat and chubby and not skinny at all. Yum!
Here's the recipe that I got from this interesting blog Angelahenrie
1 cup milk
1 pkg active dried yeast (11 gm)
3 Tbsp light soft brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour + extra for kneading
10 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup soda bicarbonate
2 Tbsp coarse salt
Warm milk in saucepan until just lukewarm (not too warm or hot or you'll kill the east and your bread won't rise).
Pour milk into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let yeast soften then stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of flour.
Dice 2 Tbsp of butter and soften it and hten stir into the mix until evenly distributed.
Add remaining flour (1 1/4 cups) and salt and combine to make a sticky dough.
Knead dough and add more flour to make it a little less sticky. Knead for 5 minutes and don't skimp this step because it makes the dough elastic and easier to roll into strips without breaking.
When the dough is smooth shape into a ball and keep in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise until double in bulk.
Mix 1/3 cup of bicarbonate soda with 3 cups of water and mix until soda dissolves and place in a shallow baking pan.
Once risen, divide into 6 or 8 parts and roll each part into a long thin strip maybe about 18 to 20 inches long. Lift the strip by holding each end in both hands each. Curl one end towards you and let it rest on the ...........you might like to go look at a picture of a pretzel and figure it out yourself. I'm too jumbled up with directions at this point to explain the intricacies of shaping a pretzel. But it is so much easier done than said. Believe me.
As you shape each one, dip the raw pretzel shape into the soda solution and place it on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Continuing doing all pretzels and let rise for 30 minutes and then bake in a 475 F oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile melt the rest of the butter and place in a shallow baking pan or bowl.
Once baked dip each cooked pretzel in the melted butter. Drain. Enjoy. YUM!!!!!