Saturday afternoon my husband insisted on stopping by Walmart while we were out, and look what we found on the shelves!
To celebrate the retail store release of The Prodigal Son Returns last week, I thought I'd share one of my favorite Amish recipes - Soft Pretzels.
Forget those pretzel places in the mall. They're okay if you're out and need a pretzel fix, but homemade is always better. (Do I hear an AMEN?)
Back in the day (my sons love to use that phrase), newspapers used to run recipe columns in their feature section - usually on Wednesday. When we lived in northern Indiana, the Goshen News had "Aunt Emma". Readers could request recipes, the feature writer (aka Aunt Emma) would collect them, print a selection, and then ask for people to send in recipes for next week's column.
I loved this column. Eighteen years ago I had four young children at home, and they were hungry ALL THE TIME! So I was always looking for new recipes.
And because we were in northern Indiana, many Amish and Conservative Mennonite ladies contributed their favorite recipes to the column.
This recipe is from Waneta of Goshen. Along with sharing the recipe, she added this tip for seasoning the treats: "I use the salt in the bottom of a bag of store-bought pretzels."
Thanks for the recipe, Waneta!
Soft Pretzels with Mustard Dip
Preheat your oven to 450°
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tablespoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose)
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water (no warmer than 115°) if using regular yeast. If you use instant yeast, mix it in with the other ingredients, and then add the water. Mix well.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
What does "smooth and elastic" mean? Believe me, you'll know when you get there. The dough makes a subtle change in your hands and suddenly it's working with you instead of fighting you.
Let rise until double (about 30 minutes).
(Confession time - I forgot to let it rise, and the pretzels turned out fine.)
Gently punch the dough into a ball and divide into twelve pieces. BTW - a pastry cutter works great for this!
Take each piece and roll it into a rope about 24" long.
And if you have minions around the house (otherwise known as cute children), this is a great step for them to do!
|Wait a minute...is it getting a little too thin?|
|Ooops. Oh well.|
|Just stick it together and keep going.|
Legend has it that the shape of the pretzel was invented by a monk to help children learn their prayers (the twisted ends symbolized the child's hands folded in prayer), but there's a lot more to pretzel history. If you're interested, here's a link to interesting pretzel history trivia.
There's a trick to making an easy twist.
First, take the two ends and cross them.
Twist them again.
Then bring the ends toward yourself and press them into the loop.
And finally, use your index fingers on each hand to extend the loops up and out to form the pretzel shape.
In the old days, pretzels were dipped into a lye bath before baking. Yes, I know - lye sounds dangerous to me, too, so we use baking soda instead!
Dissolve 2 Tablespoons baking soda with 2 cups hot water in a shallow bowl. Once you have your pretzel shaped, dip it into the water
|(Please ignore the cinnamon roll in this picture. Leftovers from Mother's Day breakfast!)|
and lay it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Now is the time to season your pretzels. I like mine lightly salted, so I use regular table salt. Coarse Kosher salt is traditional, or you can leave them plain.
If you like them sweet (and without the mustard sauce!), you can wait until they're done baking, brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. Mmmm.....
Bake them for about 7 minutes at 450°, or until lightly golden brown.
And here's the Mustard Sauce:
Mix 1/2 cup plain salad dressing (aka Miracle Whip) with 2 Tablespoons prepared mustard and 2 Tablespoons sugar.
Waneta also said, "Some people prefer salsa or melted Velveeta cheese as a dip."
Or you can slice one in half and use it for a sandwich bun.
Either way, Wynter is ready for her share -
But Maggie-cat just says, "Leave me 'lone. I'sleepin' in the sun."
IF you have leftover pretzels, you can freeze them. When you want one for a quick snack, just take one out of your freezer bag, run water over it for a second, re-salt, and then microwave. You'll have to experiment with the time...we don't usually have leftovers to freeze!