It came for me.
One blustery fall evening, like the enemy that strikes ruthlessly in the night, it came for me.
Emerging victorious from the fetters in my memory, buried deep in the murky dungeons of my bitter subconscious, imprisoned with the likes of crushingly crumbly rice krispie treats, depressingly dense Japanese cheesecakes and other villainous, inedible baking botches, it came for me.
And so we met.
After so many years.
And my old foe: Yeast.
(Listen carefully for that country western standoff music…narrowed eyes, a twitching lip and steady hands hovering over our shiny metal whisks…)
Suddenly, I was thrust back into that classroom…
Pairs of pupils poised to endure the ultimate trial of patience: survive to the end of the day’s baking session for the coveted reward of puffy, golden brown pretzels of the gods.
I looked at my meager packet of yeast in my hand and curled a naïvely eager smile, welcoming this unique substance to my creation station.
I twirled the packet in my hand methodically while dozing in and out of the teacher’s presentation, stealing minimal aloof glances at the directions typed on my assigned table.
Once set to my own devices, my confidence came to a disgruntled halt. It had taken but a few frustrating moments to realize that I wasn’t dealing with any ordinary ingredient. It was as independent and finicky as I was- it was alive…
Mine never rose that day. Nothing. Pancake pretzels resulted, both hard and dense.
With unwavering determination, I attempted round 2 at home. And then round 3.
Water temperature was spot on, yeast was fresh, and my apron matched my socks. How, then, could this baking companion have disappointed me so?
That high school nightmare was the last time I worked with yeast, banishing it indefinitely from my cupboards.
What does one do when the come hither of a cinnamon sugar pretzel seduces one’s belly?
Answer: You heal whatever needs to be healed to get your grubby hands on that sexy, twisty ball of baked dough.
I took it slow with this old acquaintance. We sat and caught up on important events in each other’s lives. I learned that the Yeast family has grown, welcoming a baby packet they named RapidRise, requiring no activation prior to baking. That was big news for Yeast. And I let Yeast know about my recently acquired affinity for boozy desserts- of which I of course was never interested in during those high school years.
You know, we turned out to not be so different after all.
Yes, both Yeast and I can be quite moody- but place us in a warm climate and give us a little sugar and we’re eternally happy.
So, Yeast and I have mended our broken past with something so amazing and so out of this world that you too will feel compelled to ease into a relationship with all things risen as well.
If it’s been too long for you too, go and grab your Yeast and cuddle up to this darling tale of a sinfully satisfying snack:
You need to knead.
Let it loosen up after a tough workout.
Imagine that ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. Yes, that one.
Channel your Auntie Anne.
It’s goo time.
Do not wait until cool, do not use a napkin and do not share. YUM.
Homemade Sweet ‘N Salty Sticky Pretzels
Chubby and soft, these pretzels make the hard decision of salty or sweet for you. Expect a soft chew with a gooey, brown sugar glaze followed by a pop of fleur de sel. And don’t worry, the chewy, fluffy pretzel dough is not left all alone- a crunch of crispy turbanado sugar replaces the typical coarse pretzel salt to satisfy that yearning for a speckled brown pretzel top.
Brown Sugar Glaze
- 1/4 C raw honey
- 1/4 C dark brown sugar
- 1/2 C unsalted butter
- fleur de sel
Homemade Pretzels (adapted from allrecipes)
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 + 2 T warm water (110 F)
- 2 1/2 C flour
- 1/4 C white sugar
- 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 T grapeseed oil
- 1/4 C baking soda
- 2 C hot water
- 1/4 C turbinado sugar
- In a small bowl stir the warm water, yeast and sugar together. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes until creamy and frothy.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the oil and the yeast mixture. Stir together until combined. If dough doesn’t come together at this point, add warm water 1 T at a time up to 3 T.
- Knead dough until smooth, about 8 minutes. Roll dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl using additional grapeseed oil. Be sure to put a thin layer on the surface of the dough ball as well.
- Store the bowl, covered, in a warm room away from drafts for an hour or until dough doubles in size.
- Punch dough down and divide it into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a long, thin rope and then shape into a pretzel.
- When all pretzels are ready, prepare the baking powder bath by whisking the warm water and baking powder together. Dip each pretzel into this and then place on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and place in a preheated 450F oven until browned, about 8 minutes.
- While baking, melt the honey, brown sugar and butter together and remove before boiling- just after brown sugar dissolves.
- When pretzels come out, use half the sauce to bast the entire surface of each pretzel very thoroughly. Sprinkle with a small pinch of fleur de sel and then a generous amount of turbinado sugar.
- Use remaining glaze as a dipping agent and enjoy!