Week 4: A Challenge Accepted

In the first few weeks of my project I have already made a whole lot of sweets.  Ironically, we don’t really eat a lot of desserts, so rather than throwing them away my guy has been taking the majority of what I bake to work with him.  From what I hear, his co-workers have generally been pleased by the influx of (extra) sugar into their daily routines, with the exception of one guy…K. 

How to describe K? I should start off by saying I really like him, he is a smart guy, good at his job, a wonderful and devoted father, and a serious amateur fly-fisher, all that having been said, he is also grumpy, opinionated, and very hard to please (I once burnt the toast while we were camping and have never heard the end of it), oh, and he has a culinary degree (!?!?)…and as it turns out, he also doesn’t like sweets. Who doesn’t like sweets?

So after my guy took the decadent chocolate cake to work last week K reportedly said something along the lines of, “enough with the sweets, tell her she needs to bake something salty”.  This was of course relayed to me as a challenge by my guy, who loves to challenge me to cook and bake new things…thus this week’s baking project…soft pretzels.

I would love to claim that I came up with the idea of pretzels in response to the challenge, but immediately after my guy told me about the challenge he suggested pretzels.  Apparently they sat around and thought about it, and decided they wanted giant soft pretzels, like the ones you get at the mall…

Now Martha has nothing to say about pretzels, so to the interwebs! Which of course yielded dozens of recipes, all of which require…yeast.  I have never worked with yeast and am more than a little afraid of it, but the point of my project is to learn how to bake, and working with yeast is a key skill I need to develop, so into the void I go!

I found a recipe which looked doable (I would say easy, but none of the recipes qualified as easy) and gathered my ingredients.  I knew it was going to take a while, the recipe suggested 2 hours,  so I started early…and everything was going fine until I mixed the yeast and oil in with the dry ingredients, once more I could not get the dough to come together.  The recipe indicated that if the dough was dry I should add 2 extra tbsp of water, I did and then added 6 more (!)  to get the dough to come together (altitude adjustment :)).   After this, everything else went as planned, even the baking soda bath was relatively easy.  Following the suggestions of one of the reviewers, after dipping the pretzels in the baking soda bath, I salted and then sprayed them with butter, before baking them in the oven for 9 minutes.

They looked wonderful and smelled great! I loaded them up on a tray and delivered them to my guy’s work in the early afternoon as a snack.    We ate them with deli mustard and they were great! Even K was pleased, although my guy told me they were a little too salty…you can’t please everyone…although I have to say that I am pleased with my first use of yeast…maybe I’ll make bread next ;)…

p.s. This may be the only post this week, as I am going fishing this weekend with the guys…maybe I’ll make another batch of pretzels for the trip…

p.p.s. After making the pretzels I agree that salty was a nice break from the sweets, so I now plan to start incorporating salty and savory baked goods into my repertoire…so any recipe suggestions are always welcome…

p.p.p.s. Here is the link to the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/buttery-soft-pretzels/


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