I find it interesting the way a person evolves over time. Their job changes, their friends change, time goes by, certain activities that were such a part of day-to-day live fade away, filled by new activities, new routines, and subsequently, new memories.
Sometimes when my minds drifts off I think about the person I used to be, the person I want to become, the person I am today. I remember being in high school and even college, waiting to feel like an adult. Waiting for some moment, some passage into adulthood. That time stamp never came though. On a day like today, a rather ordinary Sunday, when I look back on things, I realize the ways I’ve changed from the girl who was just waiting to grow up.
Don’t grow up to fast, people warned me. You’ll miss these days, I was told. Fortunately, I can say that this is the most content I’ve felt in quite a long time. Sure, there’s always room for things to go my way a little bit more often, there’s a few things that I wish could be different, or things I wish I had done differently. But, I think that these things are minor in the grand scheme of things.
I’d like to tell those people full of warning, that it was wasted on me. For I am happier than my younger self. I find comfort and contentment in small things I used to enjoy a child, activities I lost touch with and never thought I’d revisit.
Several years ago I watched Alton Brown endlessly, episode after episode, entranced in his witty delight and scientific approach that he brought into the kitchen. I went off to college without any clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It took me more time than I’d like to admit, to realize that the plastic foods and Little Tikes kitchen set of my childhood and the many episodes of Alton Brown I watched in high school were helping to build the foundation on which I would mount a career off of. I am forever intrigued by an individual’s relationship with food, for food is an integral part of everyone’s life in one form or another.
One of my favorite Alton Brown episodes was about making homemade pretzels. I used to make them in high school, but then the recipe was abandoned. I spent less time in the kitchen and lost touch with something that brought me so much happiness. I am so happy to be back in the kitchen perfecting that same recipe I worked with years ago.
With a little help from Martha Stewart, Alton and a few other creative minds I think I’ve finally developed a recipe worthy of sharing with you, my readers.
For the dough:
1 package yeast
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup beer
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (option but encouraged)
2 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
For the boiling bath:
1/4 cup baking soda
Flaky salt or light brown sugar and cinnamon or freshly grated parmesan cheese or garlic and parsley
Clearly, the possibilities are endless…
Combine together yeast, salt, sugar and warm water in a small bowl, allow to sit for about five minutes, until foamy.
Whisk flour and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl (preferably the bowl of a stand mixer). Using a pastry blender (highly recommended) or two knives, cut the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the beer to the yeast mixture, stirring to combine. Add the liquid to the flour mixture and with the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, mix at low-medium speed for about 5 minutes, until dough it no longer sticky and pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Remove dough from bowl, oil sides of bowl, return dough and cover. Allow to rise in a warm area for 30 minutes.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Once risen, divide the dough into several equal pieces. The amount of pieces will depend on the size and amount of pretzels you wish to create.
Roll the dough pieces into 12 inch ropes, make a U shape, twist the ends twice and then fold ends back over pretzel to form a circle, pressing ends to seal the dough. Allow pretzels to sit on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes to rise. While you wait, fill a large pot with at least five inches of water. Bring to a boil. Conveniently, this will also take about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 475F.
Once pretzels have risen, add the baking soda to the water which should be at a rolling boil. Gently drop as many pretzels as you can, without over crowding, into the boiling water bath. Boil for about 45 seconds, remove pretzels with a large flat, slotted, spatula and transfer back to baking sheet. Sprinkle with desired toppings and bake in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes.