Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Roundup

Thank you to everyone that participated this month! I picked the challenge and then September got away from me. They all looked so delicious!

Looking forward to Raquel's pick next month!


Posted by -Nancy

Cinnamon sugar

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.


It has risen

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.

Time for a swim

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!

Golden pretzels

Attack of the mutant pretzels

Here are the beasties post-boiling water bath.

After the bake and not looking too horrible all things considered.

The two best formed pretzels.

I used Alton Brown's recipe for Soft Pretzels found on the These are extremely tasty but I think I did something wrong as the dough was extremely sticky and difficult to roll out without the assistance of flour which wasn't called for in the recipe. Anyway I am very glad I managed to get the challenge done this month as August seemed to have run away with me and didn't make the galette.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Soft Buttery Pretzels

Posted by - Vivian

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

Nellie's Sourdough Pretzels

Posted by - Dorrie

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:

Anna stirring the start
Anna stirring the start

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.

Sourdough 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:

Pretzel dough
Pretzel dough

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?

Henry - looking pitiful
Henry - looking pitiful

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:

Finished Pretzels
Finished Pretzels

They were very yummy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Big & Chewy Soft Pretzels

Posted by - Louanne

Everytime we buy a pretzel from Auntie Anne's Pretzel shop in the mall, I say, "I bet I could make these," to which my husband replies, "yeah, you probably could and should."  Well, many thanks to Rena for choosing soft pretzels for September's Have the Cake theme, because I finally got into the kitchen and made them!  I used 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 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

Big Soft Pretzels

Posted by - Michelle

This month's Have the Cake is soft pretzels. Thanks, Rena, for choosing this for our theme! I have not made soft pretzels in my teens! I love to eat pretzels. I was originally going to do a copy cat of Auntie Ann's pretzels. My I found this one in my recipes that I wanted to try. I used to get the recipe cards from Grandma's Kitchens and this was one of them. It looked simple and I had all the stuff. I made these yesterday.

It was super simple. I didn't really enjoy rolling the dough out. The recipe called to make 30. They must be very thin pretzels. I made my thick....I got 9! These came out sooooo delicious! I will make these again and again.


1 envelope dry yeast
1 1/2 cups war mater (110-115 degrees)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 T coarse salt


1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Sift flour, sugar and salt into yeast mixture and mix well.

2. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 10 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 45o degrees. Grease baking sheets.

4. Divide dough into equal portions. Roll each portion into an 18-inch rope. Loop into pretzel shapes. Arrange on prepared baking sheets.

5. Brush the pretzels with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until golden 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately or store cooled pretzels in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Soft Pretzels

This one kind of looks like a cinnamony lump, but it was good!

Posted by - Michele

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

Norwegian Style Glazed Almond Pretzels

Posted by -  Angela from  Soap Mom's Kitchen

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!)

Dipping solution:
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

Hot Pretzels Rock

While some people are lured by the smell of Cinnabon wafting through the mall, the hot pretzel has always been my thing. It used to be Hot Sam's but with the opening of Auntie Anne's, Sam was tossed to the curb. I prefer just the plain pretzel with just a little bit of salt. No cinnamon sugar, no garlic, no fancy almond flavors and no dipping sauce. Just a mushy, doughy, hot buttered pretzel. That is perfection, people. This challenge was made for me. So, after searching through all the recipes on there I chose this one from It seemed simple enough and got really good reviews.
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

September Challenge: Soft Pretzels

Posted by - Rena

Soft pretzels

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.
Good luck!