14 July 2012

Salt: Ocean and on Land

I've been staring at these photos, trying to think of something clever or profound to say.  Nothing is coming except I hope I don't meet the above creature in the water and how cool it would be to say you went kayaking alongside a pod (yes, I just googled that) of dolphins.
If you've spent any amount of time with us, you'll know that when we find a good recipe, we clutch to it, making it over and over until we're all sick of it, give it a rest for a while and then we remember how much we like it and do it all over again.
This week we found one of those recipes.
Pearl requested that we make soft pretzels, so she found a recipe and we doubled it, knowing that 6 would not suffice the many mouths around here.
Growing up we all got to choose what my mom would make for our birthday dinners.  I remember one year when I was probably about 13, I said almost in passing, not really believing it would happen, that I wanted those big, soft pretzels from the mall (half an hour away).
Come dinner time, my dad pulled up in the car with a big bag full of a soft pretzel in his arms for everyone.  Everyone got their very own soft pretzel.
I was so excited to hold that paper pouch enveloped pretzel in my hand, and don't remember a single gift I received that year, or if any friends were there or not, but I do remember feeling pretty special that my parents would do that for me.
Sometimes it's more about what we do than what we give that makes memories memorable.
Back to the pretzels.  We've made them 3 times already, experimenting with toppings, sauce, shapes and slightly adjusting the recipe.

The dough reminds me of a brioche dough--super supple.
Our first batch was pitiful, with our attempts at forming a rope to make the professional pretzel shape.
This is how it's done, in case you wondered.
We made garlic rub/cheese, cinnamon/sugar, and classic sea salt.
Pearl made a sea turtle, a dog, a monkey, and a pig.  Never know what's up her sleeve next.
Soft Pretzels
Adapted from a Foodnetwork recipe

1 cup milk, warmed slightly
1 package yeast, or 1 scant Tablespoon
1 1/2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon fine salt

1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups water

flake or kosher sea salt
melted butter to brush tops

 Warm the milk in a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in brown sugar and 1 cup flour. Mix in butter. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough. Knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven 450 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate it, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough seems tight, cover and let rest until it relaxes.) Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. 

Mustard Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
The original recipe called for mayonnaise, but I can't stand the stuff, so I just cut it out and thought this was delicious, but I really like mustard.  Other toppings were rubbed garlic, a bit of melted butter and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  We also did a mixture of melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon to the consistency of a paste and brushed that on top of the warm pretzels (omitting the salt on that one)

Some more notes: If you double this, doubling the yeast made the dough a bit too puffy.  We cut it back by 1/2 Tablespoon.  Also, there's no need to double the baking soda bath if you double the dough. 

ps look at what a magic reader did to my photo of Olive.  Magic fingers!  Thanks, Kate!


  1. Oh, this brought back fond memories. When my, now 26 yr. old daughter, was in kindergarten, we lived just down the street from school. One day, the teacher and I walked the entire class to our house to make soft pretzels! Good times! Bet my grown-up kids would still enjoy a pretzel-making session. I'll have to try this recipe, next time they're home.

  2. yuuuuuuuum! those look so good. pinning for later. :)

  3. I love that your parents got you soft pretzels for your birthday dinner.

    Once, for my husband's birthday, he wanted everyone to get their choice of fast food. We drove from one fast food place to another until we each had the meal we wanted. Weird and time-consuming, but kind of fun.

  4. I love soft pretzels. I am going to need to pin this for later also. I love the job done on the photo. Amazing!

  5. That animal photo caught my attention: I had one of those in my bio class at college. YUCK. It's a Limulus polyphemus, also known as a "Horse-shoe-crab"... :)

    Btw. LOVE your blog!
    Greetings from Hamburg, Germany!

  6. Mmm... Looks so good. Will have to try this one soon. Thank you for sharing your recipe -- and insight, Katy.

  7. your photos are just lovely as always. Made me think of the time we lived in Florida, it was the first house my husband and I ever bought together - near the Gulf. Makes me want to visit their again.

    And the pretzels? Delish! Have a serious pretzel fetish after having lived in Germany...must try this recipe!

  8. your photos are always lovely but these are especially beautiful.
    thanks for sharing!

  9. We had the same birthday tradition growing up and still do. I will never forget the year my brother asked for TV Dinners and for us to get to eat them in front of the tv. My mom of course came through with TV dinners for all. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, and of course the 5 of us and my parents. And everyone sat in front of the TV eating them. Moms are the best.

    You are so welcome for the picture of Olive. I am so glad we were able to do it. Now the focus is on the beautiful ballerina and not the woman that felt the need to stand in front of the stage.

  10. I have been craving these for years and haven't taken time to make them. Those look delicious. I will have to get to work!

  11. Yum! I so want to make this and soon!

  12. Katy, those look fantastic! I will have to try those. And isn't Olive the perfect little ballerina!?

  13. I'll have to try to make pretzels. I bet my daughter would love them. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories. Also I need to learn how to use photoshop or some other photo editing program. I have so many photos that would be perfect if only... :D

  14. Kate the photo looks great!! :)

    Now I'm craving pretzels. . . . .

  15. Katy--you inspired me to try pretzels last night! I made them and they were delicious (we had them three ways: parm, plain butter, and drizzled with honey). We dipped the parmesan ones into warmed tomato sauce. Awesome. Ours did not look as amazing as yours though--probably because we did not get a good rise on them. I love that your dad got your pretzels for your birthday. Now that I am a parent I understand more the joy you have in making your children happy.

  16. Preztels look yummy! How did Kate edit the photo? It looks beautiful!!!!

  17. Oh i´ve been scrolling down your site and I love every post!! You're such an amazing photographer! You know how to capture the moments! You definitely got another follower!

  18. Yum! It's so funny--I just got this exact pretzel recipe from my babysitter, who made them with my girls the other afternoon. I wonder where she got it?

  19. Loved the story of the birthday pretzel. Excited to try your tried-and-true recipe. When you say one package yeast, does it matter what kind? I don't know much about yeast/doughs, but there a couple different kinds, right?

  20. Holy Moly! We made these with the kids (2, 3, 4) and they had a BLAST. The small one just ate the dough, but the others made turtles, pancakes and many other cute things.
    And these really, really taste like the real thing! We were floored. Ate them all.
    Thanks for passing such a great recipe along!!

  21. We made your pretzels for the first time ever tonight and they were a huge hit. Thank you from Australia!


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