So, I’ve neglected this a bit. Suffice to say Real Life Stuff has been in the way a bit, but I’m determined to keep it going, and I’ve still been doing a bit of cooking.
Street Food | Rose Grant
(The Crossing Press, 1988)
Chewy Soft Pretzels
Put simply, my flatmate was in the mood for pretzels. So I made pretzels. (Aren’t I an amazing person to live with?) Also, pretzels are amazing, and it was a recipe from a new book, so it was a good plan. Street Food is fun, because it’s got all sorts of details about the various, erm, street foods it covers. It roams all over the world – the USA, Europe and Asia, with recipes from Baltimore Crab Cakes to Croque Monsieur and Pad Thai. Apparently pretzels arose in the fifteenth century when a monk who didn’t want to waste any dough from the unleavened bread he was making rolled the scraps to represent people praying. The more you know.
Hoo boy. This did not go brilliantly. I suffered from the usual problem of too big a batch. It was to make 20 pretzels, if not quite the size of the New York street vendor ones, then definitely heading in that direction. The dough ended up far too elastic and stretchy, so for the most part I couldn’t shape them properly. In turn, when I boiled them, they mostly kind of drooped off the edges of the slotted spoon and lost their shape even more. I think I need to steal the giant flat pierced ladle that my dad used to use to make potato latkas. So I ended up mostly rerolling them all into just stubby little pretzel sticks instead. Which is fine, because the whole point of pretzels is the salty oily chewy amazingness; the shape is secondary. And no, I am NOT just saying that because I couldn’t get the shape right. Nope. No siree.
Well, you be the judge. It was basically a lot better when I gave up trying to shape them and just baked them as nobbly little sticks. But tastewise, hummunuh hummunuh. Even the places that sell pretzels (like Pret, say) do them with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. I did a few sesame seeds but let’s be honest, what I wanted was proper monstrous chewy but also crunchy pretzels with salt crystals on. And that’s what I got. Salt is good. The two of us ate pretty much the whole batch in two days, so something must have been right. I think if/when I make them again, I’ll just make them smaller so that the shape is more manageable, but other than that I’m marking them in the success column.