Baking is something that I'm finding more and more important in my life as I get older. It's a connection to my mother and grandmother that I hadn't really thought of until now. In think I forgot to mention it in my post DIY Bread Recipe Anyone Can Follow, but the firs thing I learned how to bake on my own was a pretzel.
Pretzel? I know. Let's just go with it.
At this point in my life it seems like a strange project to give a seventh grader to bake, but really it has all the elements of a bigger bread recipe, but condensed enough for a middle school aged kid to tackle. The only part I regret now is that I wish I could remember my seventh grade home economics class teacher's name.
This #fridayfive let's celebrate #nationalpretzelday on April 26th with a list of why homemade pretzels will change your life, a recipe for a great homemade pretzel and some ideas to "get rid of" your storebought pretzels!
In a quick look at the cost of a store bought pretzel and a homemade version, let's look at the cost of the largest ingredient of a pretzel recipe: FLOUR.
- A standard size bag of flour that I buy is a 5lbs bag and I buy it for about $4.00 per bag.
- I had to look it up but it comes out to 20 cups of flour.
- The recipe I share below uses 4.5 cups of flour.
- That comes out to about $0.90 a batch of pretzels
- This recipe makes 12 pretzels.
- That means the bulk ingredient in this recipe costs $0.08 per pretzel.
If the largest portion of your ingredients is only $0.08 then you know you're going to save money by making them at home considering that the average cost of a store bought pretzel is about $3.00.
There is nothing better than the smell of warm baking yeasty bread like a pretzel. Ok, maybe one or two like freshly bathed babies or the smell of the ground after the first rain, but in food terms, the smell of baking bread tops them all.
For me it doesn't remind me of grandma exactly, but for some it's a scent connected to deep family ties. Since most of the time I spent with my grandmothers were in the summer, it's the smell of BBQ and apple pies that spark the memory wheels to turn in my head.
Baking bread never really was their style, but I hope for my kids it's my style.
Crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. There is something magical about that moment when you break open a pretzel and feel and see that steam escape. Admittedly I'm not an expert on the subject of why bread does what it does, but I'm going to assume that the texture of a pretzel comes from the boiling process that most recipes call for. I know bagels go through that process too and I assume that's why they are the way they are as well. To back up that theory: I've made regular bread before, without boiling it and never had the texture of bread that I get from pretzels.
There is no comparison between store bought and fresh homemade bread. No offense to the bakeries out there who produce the bread that comes in the stores, but a small batches of bread have such a better taste to them!
Also, you'll definitely know a good batch too when you taste it. I once put too much salt and then once didn't put enough and the difference is drastic. For the pretzel recipe I used a recipe that called for baking soda and water to boil the pretzels. There was a tangy bite to the pretzels and I can only connect it to the aftertaste of the boiling process.
It's not a bad thing. It's that taste that makes a pretzel a pretzel.
Rinse & Repeat
Rinse and repeat might be instructions on a shampoo bottle, but really, it applies here. The moment you learn how easy it is to make a good pretzel and taste your first one, you're going to want to rinse out your bowl and repeat. The whole process of making these only took about an hour and a half start to finish. Sounds like a lot, but really an hour of that time is waiting for the dough to rise.
Timing is a big thing with baking due to the proofing process. It's something that can't be rushed so you just have to be patient. When we made our batch the kids watched a TV show for the proofing time and it made it go by more quickly.
Boogie & Bootsie's adventures in pretzel making
On a raining day this month the two amigos helped me make pretzels. Here are some pictures of our experience:
Don't waste your store bought pretzels
We all probably have at least one bag of store bought pretzels. Don't waste them. These ususally smaller and harder textured pretzels have a destiny to fulfill. Don't get in their way.
Just because you've now been introduced to the amazing qualities of a homemade pretzel, put these to good use in the following recipes:
Happy National Pretzel Day
The National Calendar website says:
National Pretzel Day is observed annually on April 26. A bag of nice crunchy, salty pretzels or a big, warm, soft, cinnamon pretzel is the question of the day. Either one is an excellent choice.
There are a few different accounts of the origin of the pretzel. Most people agree that it does have a Christian background, and they were developed by the monks. According to The History of Science and Technology, in 610 AD, “an Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest, pretiola (little rewards).”
Another source puts the invention in a monastery in southern France. The looped pretzel may also be related to a Greek Ring bread from the communion bread used in monasteries a thousand years ago. In the Catholic Church, pretzels had a religious significance for both ingredients and shape. The loops in pretzel may have served a practical purpose: bakers could hang them on sticks, projecting upwards from a central column, as shown in Job Berckheyde’s (1681) painting.
The Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants introduced pretzels to North America in the 19th century. At this time, many handmade pretzel bakeries populated central Pennsylvania, and their popularity quickly spread.
It was in the 20th century that soft pretzels were very popular in areas such as Philadelphia, Chicago and New York.
Today, the average Philadelphian consumes about twelve times as many pretzels as the national average.
Pennsylvania is the center of American pretzel production for both hard and soft pretzels, producing 80% of the nation’s pretzels.
The annual United States pretzel industry is worth over $550 million.
The average American consumes about 1.5 pounds of pretzels per year.
Philadelphia opened a privately run “Pretzel Museum” in 1993.
Hard pretzels originated in the United States in 1850.
How are you celebrating?
Do you make your own homemade pretzels? Do you have a great recipe for store bought pretzels? I have room on my Celebrate National Pretzel Day Pinterest Board!
I'd love to hear how you're celebrating today!