February 9, 2010

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Did you know that Maryland got b*tch slapped by Mother Nature this weekend? If you missed out, let me share some pictures from some friends facebook pages:

That was a car. I'm not sure what it is now (taken by my student, Megan)

Taken by my sister-in-law. I'm jealous of her camera.

My friend Sam. Ain't she adorable?

So...as you can see, we spent our whole weekend either huddled on the couch or wielding the mighty snow shovel. Before Blizzard 2010 hit, I ran to the grocery store to make sure that I had enough flour, butter, eggs and sugar to get me through the weekend. This, in hindsight, was the worst idea ever. I spent 5 minutes gathering my groceries and then another 45 minutes waiting in line, surrounded by people who were in sheer panic. Sigh.

What else is there to do on a snowy weekend but bake, right? I decided to try my hand at homemade pretzels, since I haven't had the best luck with yeast-related dishes yet. This is a Martha recipe, and is pretty simple overall. The worst part was rolling and twisting all 32 mini-pretzels, but it wasn't like I had anything else to do!

They tasted great, but not exactly like the kind you get at the ballpark. I think that there should be more baking soda in the water bath, which would help give them more of a shiny crust. I will definitely make these again!

Soft Pretzels
adapted from Martha Stewart Living

2 cups warm water, 100 degrees to 110 degrees
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt
Vegetable-oil cooking spray

Pour warm water into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a small bowl, combine water and sugar, and stir to dissolve sugar. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about 10 times, or until smooth.

Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each), and wrap in plastic.

Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; 8 will fit on each sheet. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda. Reduce to a simmer; transfer 3 to 4 pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for 2 days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.
Here is Martha's pictorial on rolling & twisting. It's pretty self-explanatory:


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It is pretty crazy here, huh?!? Those pretzels look great! I'm thinking what I should bake up tomorrow :)