Away and back again

Another period during which life conflicts with life. Been away here:

and then came back and have spent most of the past two weeks hiding out at my home away from home trying to finish a project so protean that every time I sit down to work on it, it has turned into something else. I think evil elves are visiting my laptop when my back is turned.

I do come home once in a while, though, to give my family a chance to see whether they still remember me, and on one of these occasions recently we made homemade pretzels, following the amazingly easy recipe here.

After making the simple dough and letting it rise for a bit, you shape it into nice fat pretzel shapes and set them aside on baking parchment to rise.

As they do, you prepare a boiling water bath and give them a good dunking for a few seconds, then lift them back onto the parchment. Here are two that have been bathed and two waiting their turn:

Here’s the last one taking its swim:

The other two pots on the stove, by the way, are full of maple sap that we’re boiling down into syrup. It takes forever and probably costs us more in electricity than we’d ever spend if we just bought maple syrup, but it’s great fun and little bottles of it make wonderful gifts.  I’ll post more about that the next time I come up for air. This year there’s been a neverending flow of sap, so much that we’re really just getting tired and may call an arbitrary halt to the process soon.  In all fairness, First Child has done 99% of the heavy lifting here, and my Better Half has done 99% of the tending. Because I’ve been . . . well, I showed you where I’ve been. Back to the cooking show.

Finally, the pretzels are glazed with egg wash, sprinkled with salt, and baked:

For a long time the kids have liked the soft pretzels you get at the supermarket in the freezer section. These come a few to a box and include a packet of pretzel salt that contains enough to cover Lot’s wife, so for years we’ve been saving the extra salt in a jar and have enough for many, many pretzel baking sessions.  We used that on the pretzel on the left, and some Maldon salt on the other two.  After comparing the two we decided that the pretzel salt is plenty good enough and looks more traditional–the Maldon salt was really gilding the lily and since I limit myself to one box of that a year (preferably bought on sale), I’m stingy with it anyway.

For the record, the homemade pretzels kick the crap out of the grocery store brand and are cheaper, too. Also delicious–did I mention delicious?

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5 responses to “Away and back again

  1. Oh my goodness! These pretzels look so delicious. I have a weakness for pretzels…did you know that? I’m possibly addicted to mall pretzels, and how pathetic is that? I am going to make these!

    And may I say, in all selfishness, that I am soooo glad to have you back from your chair in the library?

  2. I’m not getting back in that chair for a long time. At least not until Monday or maybe even Tuesday.

    I hope you do make the pretzels–couldn’t have been easier. Yell if you get stuck.

  3. Having recently spent $24 on a quart of maple syrup, I’m sure all your effort for the homemade variety will be much appreciated.

    The pretzels look scrump-shuss. If only I didn’t have so much trouble with gluten in my old age.
    Sigh. I’ll live vicariously by drooling at the pictures.

  4. homemade maple syrup? you just sunk my battleship. i want to do that so much, but the only thing flowing in the wild streets of brooklyn doesn’t smell too good, and i think heating and concentrating it would only intensify the problem.

    and would it be wrong to want to dip a pretzel in maple syrup?

  5. I love to make pretzels too. I have not made them this way before and will have to try it. What I normally do is dunk my pretzels in 1/2 cup of water that has had a tablespoon of soda added to it. It makes a nice crust and they taste a like the Amish pretzels that we bought at Reading Terminal Market in Philly. I got the recipe from one of the cookbooks the Amish sell there.
    As for the shape of the pretzel…I would like to offer some advice. Roll out the long snake. Hold just the two ends and lift it up off the table. Now make a motion so that the loop at the bottom has enough momentum to spin and twist the dough in the middle. Before it has a chance to untwist, lay it down on the counter and fold the two end over and press into the large bottom loop…pull at the top and shape. Takes a little practice but in no time you will get it…provided your dough is not too wet and the snakes fall apart when you pick it up. If so you will have to add more flour and roll it out the snake again.

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