Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Twist & Shout!

In 6th grade, pretzels were the first recipe we tackled in Mrs. Gill's Home Ec. class. We followed that with scrambled eggs and coffee cake, at which point I was going crazy with boredom. My mom pointed out that to most of the kids in my class these recipes were probably new and exotic... so I soldiered on. Then, something wonderful happened. Ms. Feek took over the class mid-year. She was a former chef from New York and she was fabulous. We started making croissants, bagels, chocolate mousse, roasted duck... whatever we wanted to learn about. She also had us find our own recipes, write up grocery lists, and manage our kitchen team. I learned a lot in that class and took it in 7th and 8th grade as well.

Yesterday, I made pretzels for the first time with the kids, but not with Mrs. Gill's recipe (which I long since lost).

The new recipe I found is from the King Arthur Flour site, and it's lovely. The kids (including Aura and Rowan) scarfed them down, and this will easily be a first solo recipe for the kids when they're older. Good thing too since Home Ec. isn't even offered in junior high anymore... The kids got very creative with shapes yesterday, and Mad ended up with this "snail" that she took in her bento today—filled with cream cheese.

King Arthur Soft Pretzels (16 pretzels)
(adapted from the King Arthur Flour web site)
About 2 cups warm water
2 pkgs. regular instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 cup warm water
4 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat till well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, till it's soft, smooth, and quite slack. Oil the dough and place it in a bowl, cover, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 475°F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with vegetable oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into 16 equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda, and place it in a shallow bowl. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn't, it'll make your pretzels splotchy.Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel (or other shape). Dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown, reversing the baking sheets halfway through.Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you've used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but it's covering 16 pretzels. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.
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Jerrie said...

I loved Home Ec. My favorite recipe was Baked Alaska. Along with cooking and sewing we had a home interior portion (I loved it - made the best diorama of my bedroom redecorated complete with peach walls...oh my!).

Anonymous said...

I took home ec in 7th and only remember making a great Teddy bear and that the teacher was a snot. Teachers make all the difference don't they? :) But it's funny you posted this today as I was JUST thinking about making some but forgot to look for a recipe! I think we'll have to make some soon! :)
Jen N


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