Looking forward to Raquel's pick next month!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Looking forward to Raquel's pick next month!
This month’s Have the Cake challenge was so much fun. Soft Pretzels. I had been craving them for some time and had actually just googled some recipes. So when the challenge was posted I was excited to get baking. Unfortunately I knew I would have to wait since we were moving mid month. And not just a little, across town move, but moving from Southern California to Austin, Texas. What’s a pregnant woman to do?
Once we arrived in Texas mid-month, we had to find a place to live. Then of course there was the unloading of the truck and unpacking. All of which becomes a bit more complicated when you throw a curious toddler in the mix. Finally on Tuesday, I decided I needed some baking therapy. Luckily I had my recipe picked out, all the ingredients, and time to wait for dough to rise.
First, the recipe I choose was from my friend Alton Brown. I love Alton, all of his quarks and his show “Good Eats”. As I searched for a recipe, I found a lot of them online. They were all basically the same, and since I wanted an all around, basic recipe I could embellish, as I felt needed, I went with Alton’s.
I choose naptime to start my dough since it was quiet and I could give my undivided attention to the task. Everything went together really easily, as I expected they would. I usually let my dough rise in a warmed oven (after it’s turned off), and I did this time also. As you can see, I had amazing rise on this dough.
Once risen it was time to roll out and boil the pretzels. Since I don’t have a digital kitchen scale, I eyeballed my dough chunks to try to make them equal. I ended up with 13 balls, a baker’s dozen! The rolling out was simple, except for the fact that my son was upset I wouldn’t let him have more fruit snacks so he was “helping” by taking everything out of the pantry, putting it on the floor, and then “sweeping” it up. Time for some TV. Once he was settled with Curious George I went back to my boiling baking soda water and pretzels. One thing I learned about the baking soda water is to use a deep pot since it can overspray everywhere.
Once the pretzels were boiled it was into the oven for 13 minutes. As you can see, the first batch came out a bit light, so they got a coat of melted butter and some cinnamon sugar topping. The second batch got the egg wash and salt before going into the oven and came out much more golden. And they tasted delicious. My husband gobbled them up and even my son, who usually avoids anything baked, ate half a pretzel with honey on it. This recipe is definitely a keeper!
After the bake and not looking too horrible all things considered.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Away from the sweet but still soft and delicious; that's what this month's challenge is for Have the Cake. I love a good pretzel and I could eat a dozen Aunt Annie's pretzels. Well, I've never eaten a dozen pretzels but I don't think it would be too hard if I put my mind to it!
I found this recipe for butter pretzels on the allrecipes web site. They weren't difficult to make and while it is a bit time consuming to make your own pretzels, it is certainly worth it. The only downfall to this recipe was that it only made a dozen. However, homemade pretzels do not keep well so maybe only making a fresh dozen is a good thing. I adjusted the recipe a bit, adding melted butter instead of oil, reducing the flour and topping the freshly baked pretzel with more melted butter. Find the original recipe here.
I have since made this recipe twice as the first batch was gobbled up quickly. I sent two home with my son in law and my daughter called me to say, "Lose this recipe and die!" She also told me that this is the "cake" she wants for her birthday this year. I would have to say that this is most certainly a keeper recipe.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I was intrigued by this month's Have the Cake challenge, pretzels, as chosen by Rena, and so I felt that I should definitely try to make the time to participate. It is rare that I have the time to bake, (as shown by how little I post on HTC) as I really need both of the kids to be napping to get any work done. Since my sourdough start should be used and "fed" every ten days and I had last touched the stuff oh, three weeks ago, I searched high and low for a sourdough pretzel recipe - two birds, one stone! It was a little difficult, but I finally found one on Group Recipes.
As a side note, during my recipe search I found several sourdough bakers who have named their sourdough, which I find, well, a little odd. Granted, I do think of it as a sort of pet that lives in my refrigerator. My sourdough pet demands flour and milk and gets nasty if I ignore it, but I never thought of naming the stuff! In the interest of perhaps treating the start better if I do name it, the start has now been named "Nellie". Nellie was my great-grandmother who grew up in San Francisco and who passed the start down to my mother. So, Nellie, would you like to make some pretzels?
Twenty-four hours before I was going to make the pretzels I got Nellie out of the fridge and took 1 cup out and added a half a cup each of milk and flour. Anna wanted to help - she's an excellent stirrer - so here she is mixing the start and getting it ready to proof:
Twenty-four hours later I scuttled Anna off to the drop-off daycare place (she cries if I turn on my Kitchen-Aid mixer), put Henry down for nap and began to make the pretzels.
1 1/2 cups sourdough start
1 cup hot water
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons butter (the baker did not specify, but I assumed unsalted butter, and then not paying attention again I accidentally added 3 Tablespoons instead of 2 - worked out in the end!)
2 tsp salt
@5 1/2 cups flour
I warmed up about 3 cups of hot water and then put 1 cup of water, the sugar, butter and salt into a bowl and mixed them. When that was cooled to lukewarm I used the remaining hot water to warm up my mixing bowl and then put the proofed start and the water/butter stuff in the bowl and mixed them. I then added flour a 1/2 cup at a time until the dough balled up and came away from the sides of the bowl - which ended up being about 4 cups of flour.
After that, I put the dough down on my lightly floured pastry board. My beloved husband surprised me a few weeks ago and bought me the best pastry board! It's a lovely wood board with a lip to hold it on the counter and a lip to keep the dough from rolling off the top, rulers on the side and top and circles for different diameters of crusts. Thanks honey! Anyway, here is the dough on the new board after I kneaded it and added probably another 3/4 cup of flour:
I kneaded it until it became smooth and not sticky, "like a baby's bottom", as my mother used to say, and since I change a lot of diapers, I know exactly what that feels like...
I put the dough into a greased bowl, rolled it around to coat it and let it rise for 2 hours. At that point I put a pot on the stove and began boiling water while I took egg size pieces of dough and rolled and twisted them into pretzels. Once they were done and the water was boiling I put a few pretzels into the water at a time until they rose to the surface and then put them on a baking sheet. (Note for next time - the recipe does not say to put them on a greased baking sheet and I won't be making that mistake again - grease that sheet!) The recipe doesn't say this, but I did it anyway; I beat an egg with a little water and then brushed that on each pretzel before I generously sprinkled them with Kosher salt.
During this whole process, while I was rolling and baking the pretzels, Henry sat on the couch and moaned... Poor thing had his 6 month birthday/check-up that day and was not doing well with the four shots he had received at the doctor's office. See, he looks pitiful doesn't he?
I popped the pretzels into my preheated 425 degree oven and baked them for what ended up being 19 minutes. My husband ate 4 of them before they had a chance to cool - and said something in between bites about, "You could make me a batch of these every week!" Okay then - I think we did good Nellie!
Here's a picture that I took of the finished pretzels before they were eaten:
They were very yummy!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Alton Brown's recipe, which had a yield of 8 pretzels, plenty enough for a family of three. I mixed the dough in my stand mixer, and I think the process would be quite difficult without the use of it. Also, the dough is a little difficult to work with, initially, but I had a hair appointment and after I mixed the dough, I oiled the bowl and placed it in the refrigerator. By the time I had arrived back home, six hours had elapsed, the dough had risen, and it was super easy to work with....at first. I found the rolling of each piece into the required 24" length somewhat frustrating, and after 6 misshapened pretzels, I made a braid, and Andrew, my 5-year old, made the last piece into a roll. The braid was actually quite easy, and the next time, I'll made them all into braids, because yes, I would definitely make these again! Both Brett and Andrew gave them 2 thumbs up, with Andrew telling me "these are the best, Mom!" One of the reasons I had never made them before was of the brief process of immersing the pretzels into boiling water. This step turned out to be very quick and easy, so don't let that deter you. The pretzels are declicious and without comparison to those at the mall.
Find the recipe here
Monday, September 13, 2010
Posted by - Michelle
Friday, September 10, 2010
This one kind of looks like a cinnamony lump, but it was good!
This month's Have the Cake challenge was chosen by Rena. She picked soft pretzels! Thank you Rena for such a cool idea. I have never made soft pretzels before but I was up for the challenge.
After searching the internet, I decided to use a recipe I found here on All Recipes. I mixed up the dough and waited about an hour and a half until it was nicely risen. Then I started to attempt to make pretzels. I thought they were coming out fine until my 14-year-old son came into the kitchen. "Ummmm, mom. Those don't look like pretzels. Let me try." To my amazement, he made pretzels better than me. His are the one's all the way up at the top that actually look like pretzels.
Anyway, we had lots of fun making the pretzels. And even thought mine didn't look beautiful, they were delicious. I dipped some in cinnamon sugar and I salted some. Both were awesome!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I have to tell you that I have been on a search for Norwegian Almond Pretzels ever since I went to Epcot at Disney World, and visited the Norway Exhibit. There is a wonderful bakery in the exhibit with traditional Norwegian pastries. I remember the first time I laid eyes on those gorgeous, yes gorgeous pretzels covered in almonds. I had to have one instantly. My heart was beating fast and the counter person could not have put it into a bag quick enough. One bite and I thought I went to heaven! Not overly sweet, just soft and delicious.
This is European comfort food!
I have been on a quest for several years to find that elusive almond pretzel recipe from Epcot. I never found it, but I was lucky enough to find a traditional German Pretzel recipe from a baker friend of mine who happens to be German. Yes, German people know a lot about pretzels. Well, I decided to make a glaze of my own and add the sliced almonds. I have to say I was quite pleased with my endeavor. They are soft, not to sweet and just delicious. I think the folks at Disney might even approve! Well, this is my version of a Norwegian Almond Pretzel with the help of a dear friend, who isn't Norwegian, but the next best thing, German!
I would definitely make this recipe again and after baking, dip them in salted butter or cinnamon sugar. Maybe even a jalapeno cheddar pretzel with a cold glass of beer might be nice!
Warning! You cannot just eat one. They are addicting!
Yields 7 pretzels
preheat oven to 375 degrees
2 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 degrees)
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T. sugar
2 large eggs room temperature
3 to 4 cups of flour if you need a little more just add a little at a time ( You want a soft dough, not sticky and not firm, just right!)
2 cups water with 1/4 cup baking soda added
1 cup powder sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
Water ( start with 1 T. and more until you achieve a smooth consistency but not to thin)
In a large mixing bowl, stir yeast into warm water and dissolve, add sugar. Wait five minutes to activate yeast. Add eggs and beat in with a whisk. Add first cup of flour with 1/2 tsp.of salt. Add remaing cups beat with dough hook on a stand up mixer, or if doing by hand, knead to form a soft dough. Grease another bowl, add dough and cover with a tea towel until double in size. Divide dough evenly into 7 balls. Roll out into long strings and form a pretzel knot. Dip into soda water solution and place 4 pretzels onto 1 cookie sheet that has been sprayed with oil. Place the other 3 onto another cookie sheet. Let double in size. Bake for 12 minutes until slightly golden. Cool and brush with glaze and drizzle with sliced almonds. Sift confectioner's sugar over pretzels.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Rule #1 in baking. Read through your recipe first and follow directions. whoops. I put everything in my trusty mixer and started it kneading. Hmmmmm...It just wasn't coming together. I added more flour. A little more flour. It was just a sticky mess. I finally just dumped the dough in to a greased bowl and covered it to let it rise hoping that might make it better. While putting everything away I noticed my new, unopened bag of bread flour on the counter. Right. Forgot to add the cup of bread flour. Okay. In the garbage goes effed up batch number one.
Let's try this again. Amazing how much better it worked the second time around. Mixed up beautifully. Put it in the greased bowl to rise for an hour. Perfect. Cut the dough up in to 10 pieces. Rolled it out, made some pretzel-like shaped and dipped them in the warm water-baking soda mixture. Put the dough on to parchment paper on cookie sheets and in the oven for about 10 minutes.
All baked up they look a little pale and anemic but the bottoms were golden-colored so I knew they were done. I brushed each one with melted butter and sprinkled them with kosher salt. They were delicious. I ate them all. They made up all my lunch and dinner today. I would make these again for sure and may even give that whole cinnamon sugar thing a try.
Posted by -colleen
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I'm so glad I got a chance to pop in for the challenge this month. I really wanted to post last month for Have the Cake's anniversary but I stayed with the schedule. This month we had a no-show for the challenge pick so I'm stepping in last minute.
Have the Cake started as a little idea to get me and my friends baking more often. I consider you all friends now and I hope you are enjoying the experience. I'm loving every minute!
Our challenge this month is to make soft pretzels! I have always wanted to make these. Growing up in New York City, soft pretzel carts are on every street corner. When I was younger, I would eat them all the time. Once you start to really understand what food sitting out on a New York City street corner means, they become a little less appealing. Thankfully, there is Auntie Anne's Pretzels. The first time I ate one of their pretzels, I almost fainted. The butter! Boy, they are tasty.
It might be dangerous to learn how to make these because if they are easy, I'm going to make them all the time. I like that there are a lot of possibilities. Searching through recipes I've seen a many interesting variations including:
Cinnamon & Sugar
I've attached a recipe with pictures. There is a lot of good information on the page so be sure to scroll down. There is rising time necessary for these so make sure you schedule that into your prep time.
There are lots of recipes online so you can hunt around if you like.