Pretzels: Gifted Inspiration

This post was inspired by gifts.  Coming off the holidays – that’s no surprise.

First, my gift.  Let me say, “BAKERS, I have ARRIVED!”  I am now the proud, delighted, and still-surprised owner of  a Kitchenaid Professional Plus Stand Mixer.  For so long, I assumed this would never grace my counter.  For one, it’s quite expensive — and nearly as heavy, and it’s hard to justify a large purchase on a mixer when there are quite a few other home items that are closer to the top of the list (a table?  lamps?).  So many recipes say “place in a sturdy mixer” or blog posts reference their “trusty kitchenaid” and I’ve just sighed in resignation and pulled out the hand-mixer.  It has served my well, but in making this latest recipe, how pleasant it was to just walk away and return to watch all the magic happen, more or less unaided.  To let the dough hook do the work without the dough squirting into the beater holsters.  Oh yes.  Bakers, I made it to the party.

And really – who needs an inspiration to use a kitchenaid?  You can do so many things — and I haven’t even explored the attachment options (ice cream maker – YAY!, sausage maker – NAY!).  But, Paul received some fancy spicy mustard as a gift.  Yes, indeed.  Mustard.

I rarely use mustard.  I’ve never liked it much and it’s a common condiment for cold cuts, so – you get it.  But, it has often been used a balsamic vinaigrette.  I do, however, associate it with soft pretzels – though I prefer the fake cheese option myself (“cheese food” or is it “cheese spread” — maybe “pub cheese” sounds better) or just the straight kosher salt.

And so, when Paul showed me the mustard I exclaimed, “Oh!  I should bake  pretzels to go with the mustard!”  Right – natural thought progression!

They were indeed delicious but really quite a bit of work, probably because it was short amounts of “rest” so it by the time you finished one task you only had few moments to get distracted by some other house chore before you’re back at it — manipulated the dough for a couple minutes and then letting it “rest.”  I used the “Joy of Cooking” recipe for pretzels.  Actually – my dear friends Maren and Lis bought me that book for my birthday a few years ago — another lovely, thoughtful gift!

Here are the pretzel, preformation and at the 2nd rising, I think.

And shaping the pretzels.  The first is never as good as the last one is.

And, like bagels, these are blanched in boiling water.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the tummy!

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