Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pretzels- A Lenten Treat

It was told to me several years ago, that pretzels were a lenten snack.  Although the story claims the shape of the pretzel was invented to resemble monks folding their hands in prayer... there is just no way to substantiate that claim. My comments... Who cares?? If bringing an evergreen into the house during Advent and Christmas can remind you of Christ's everlasting love, why can't a pretzel remind us to pray.. regardless of its historical origin??

At one time the Catholic church restricted the use of lard, eggs and dairy during the Lenten season.  The bread that resulted was very similar to that which we call pretzels.  This more than anything probably contributed to familiarity of pretzels being a "treat" during Lent.
So during Lent, at least once, I make homemade soft bread pretzels. My recipe comes from Alton Brown and can be found here:  Alton Brown's Soft Pretzel Recipe

Because I used my bread machine to make the dough, I am listing the ingredients in the order they should be put into the machine:

1 1/2 c. warm water
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 1/2 c. flour
1 TBS sugar
2 tsp. yeast

Set machine for "dough".  This generally takes about an hour and a half.  Your machine might be slightly different.


Preheat your oven to 450.  Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and brushing it lightly with vegetable oil.

 For the purpose of our Tuesday night ladies' Bible study, I chose to divide the dough into 2 oz. portions.  Normally, I would make larger pretzels and serve them with brats for dinner... that's brAHts.. not brats ;)  But I didn't think the ladies would appreciate the larger portions so late in the evening!

Fill a large pot with 10 cups of water and 2/3 c. baking soda.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Watch it once it boils, the soda will bubble.

Roll the dough into long "snakes", then hold up the ends to form a U shape.  Twist the ends and fold back down.  Press the ends down.
Place each shaped pretzel onto the parchment paper.

Drop each pretzel into the boiling soda water for 30 secs. If the pretzels are larger, it's a good idea to do them individually, but because mine are miniature versions, I grouped them into fours.

Using a slotted spatula or spoon rescue the pretzels and return them to the parchment.  Brush them with some  egg wash (1 beaten egg) and sprinkle them with coarse salt.  I used the same kosher salt that I put into the dough at the beginning.

Bake for 12-14 minutes.  The smaller the pretzel, the less time... makes sense.
Pretzels really are best when eaten straight from the oven.  Certainly, they should be eaten the same day... good luck keeping them any longer than that.  They go fast!

Hopefully, these tasty little treats will help us to remember to fold our arms in prayer, and thank God for his many sacrifices this Lenten season.

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