Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ash Wednesday tradition of Soft Pretzels!

I keep reading that pretzels have a significant Christian meaning. I am from Philly and boy, oh boy, do I miss my Philly Soft Pretzels. 
So, I am all for an Ash Wednesday tradition of Soft Pretzels!  We fast on Ash Wednesday but these can definitely be part of our one meal!
This is what I found At Colleen Hammond's site:
"They get their shape from the crossing of arms across the chest–the usual form of prayer of early Christians. They are made of simple flour and water as–up until recently–no eggs, meat, dairy products (cheese, butter, cream) were eaten during Lent.
Pretzels were originally called bracellae (little arms), and the German Christians came up with the word “pretzel” from that."
The coolest thing is that they are fairly easy to make! Here is Colleen's recipe with some notes from me:

Colleen's Soft Pretzel Recipe

  • 2 cups very warm water (110-120 degrees F)
  • 4-6 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 quarts boiling water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • Coarse salt
-Proof yeast in water and sugar (that means let it double in size -- keep in in a warm place for about 5 to 10 minutes. I sometimes add a touch of sugar - at the beginning - to help it along)
-Add flour and salt
-Knead to the proper consistency (~8 minutes)
-Rise for an hour  (or until double in size)
-Turn dough onto a lighted floured surface
-Divide into 8-12 equal pieces
-Roll each ball into a 20-inch rope
-Form into pretzel shape
-Bring water and baking soda to a boil
-Slip pretzels into boiling water (1-2 at a time)
-Boil for 10-15 seconds
-Remove with a slotted spoon
-Place pretzels on greased baking sheets
-Lightly brush with water (or egg bath)
-Sprinkle with coarse salt (Sea Salt!)
-Bake in a hot (425º degree F) oven for 8-10 minutes until golden brown

And just for the record:
While history might credit the Germans for the creation of the pretzel, the first American pretzels came on to the scene in the Philadelphia region in the mid 1800's. According to www.ushistory.org: 
"  Lititz, a city outside of Lancaster in Pennsylvania Dutch country is said to be the birthplace of the American pretzel. Another legend has it that in the late 1850s, a hobo jumped off a train in Lititz and was given a free meal by a baker named Ambrose Roth. In exchange for Roth's munificence, the hobo gave the baker a recipe for the pretzel. Roth passed on the recipe to his apprentice, William Sturgis, who baked the first American pretzel in 1861...." 
Soft pretzels can be purchased throughout the city, often from street vendors. The best pretzel is warm and does not appear to be moist. Once the pretzel gets cold, it begins to harden, and the soft pretzel is no longer soft, nor nearly as good. Many people coat their pretzels with yellow mustard, which heightens the taste. The vendor should have mustard available. Enjoying a Philadelphia soft pretzel is an important experience during any visit to Philadelphia. (source: tryphilly.com)

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin