Ok, at this point, for those of you who've been keeping up with this newsletter, the little preamble that I was about to write about a noticeably increased interest in baking projects recently is probably unnecessary. The gist? People seem to be baking like crazy right now, are asking me tons of questions about flour, starter, dough, crust, crumb, etc., and are clamoring for fun recipes that they can dive into while they're stuck at home.
So far (at least since quarantine started), we've done and . I swear I'm not trying to make these thematic, but today's installment roughly falls into that same category of baked goods that were ubiquitous (and SO much better) during my childhood in New York City. They're nostalgic, widely beloved, wildly delicious, and surprisingly possible to make (and make well!) at home. I'm talking about soft pretzels.
Like bagels, pretzels are boiled before baking. The key is adding baking soda to the water, which gives pretzels their distinctive flavor and brown, glossy crust. The recipe here produces perfectly chewy pretzels with dark, burnished exteriors. If you like your soft pretzels to have a little more crunch on the outside but remain tender and chewy in the middle, just lower the oven temperature and bake for a little longer.
The only "exotic" ingredient in the recipe is malt syrup (which also helps with that beautiful crust), but if you can't find it, just substitute brown sugar. I've included illustrations for how to form the pretzels into their signature shape, but you can also bake them as rolls or twists if you prefer. The only thing that's non-negotiable (IMHO) is serving these with some mustard for dipping. Anything else would be heresy.
One more thing, because it's so joyful and my grandson loves it, as did his mom, as did I, when I watched it with her when she was little.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.