Keeping Thanksgiving Alive Year Round
Although the singular day of Thanksgiving in America has come and gone, it only seems healthy that we keep the spirit of giving thanks alive as we pass into what is quickly becoming a season of greed and materialism. So, on this weekend which marks the official start to the “holiday shopping marathon,” I thought that instead of shopping, I’d much rather celebrate two of the things that I’m most thankful for: friends and good food. And, the beauty of these two things is that you can celebrate with them any time of the year!
For this reason, I thought it only fitting to make a recipe that’s not only more fun with friends, but also relies on no overtly seasonal ingredients. So, be sure to send a thankful thought to the agricultural kick starters of the Neolithic age, and the farmers of our digital age, for making flour accessible and storable for our use today! You might also, if the lore is to be believed, thank the German monks of the 7th century CE for devising the twisting form of the pretzel in the first place – allegedly invented as a reward for children who learned their prayers. Regardless of who you thank for this sweet and salty bakery treat, be sure to grab someone that you’re thankful for to help make a batch of buttery soft pretzels even more enjoyable!
Soft Pretzels Recipe
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast (about two packets)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (between 100 – 110 F / 37 – 43 C)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 4 cups hot water
- course kosher salt (sometimes sold specifically as “pretzel salt”)
- In a small bowl, dissolve teaspoon of sugar and yeast in warm water. Let the yeast proof, or bubble up for about 10 minutes, or until white and foamy.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, and salt. Make an indentation in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and vegetable oil. Stir until it forms a rough dough.
- Knead for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
- Lightly spray a bowl with non-stick baking spray, place the dough in the bowl and roll until evenly coated in oil. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 450 F / 230 C.
- Dissolve baking soda in 4 cups of hot water and set aside.
- When your dough has doubled, punch it down and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a long rope (the longer and thinner your pretzel, the easier it is to twist) and twist into a pretzel shape (or, as my friends and I learned while making pretzels: twist into any shape you desire, your pretzels will be delicious either way).
- Dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until golden brown.
- Enjoy a butter-free, but oh-so-buttery soft pretzel with those you love! One final tip for enjoying these pretzels to the full: eat them as quickly as possible when they’ve finished baking. A reheated pretzel is okay, but a fresh pretzel is divine!
As always, thanks for stopping by for this weekend’s special excavation! Be sure to stop back in on Tuesday for a traditional bread recipe that might just work for breakfast!
Stay thankful and keep digging!