Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Homemade Soft Pretzels!

I love, really really love making yeast breads. They take too long since I'm an impatient person, but they are so worth it. Since there's only little old me in my apartment, I was reluctant to make a big 'ol loaf of bread. So instead, I made a big 'ol batch of soft pretzels...much better. 
Some years back, I got this awesome cookbook called "The Dough Maker's Cookbook" and I have used it as one of my favorites. In this wonderful book is an even more wonderful recipe for soft pretzels, another true love of mine. I have made these before, but they came out a little sloppy, and if you know me, I don't like sloppy. Although sloppy, they were absolutely delicious, so I had no reservations about making them again. As far as a yeast dough, they do not take very long at all to rise, only 30 minutes, so that was just what I was looking for. 

Dough Maker's Soft Pretzels
courtesy of The Dough Maker's Cookbook

4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup rye flour or additional ap flour
2 tablespoons malt powder or sugar
Two 1/4 oz packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon molasses (I didn't have molasses, I used honey instead)
1 1/2 cup hot water (12o to 130 degrees Fahrenheit)
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup baking soda
Pretzel or kosher salt for sprinkling
4 tablespoons melted butter

In a large bowl combine the flours, malt powder, yeast and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the oil, molasses and hot water, add to the flour mixture and combine. When the dough comes together, turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and slightly tacky, about 10 minutes. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, each about the size of a lemon. Roll each piece beneath the palms of your hands to form a 20 inch rope. This is easiest done on an unfloured surface with clean hands, the stickiness will help you. The dough will shrink, so when you are finished, go back to the first and stretch them a bit.

Preheat the oven to 4oo degrees Fahrenheit.

Shape the pretzels by making a U shape facing away from you, then cross and twist the ends, pinch the ends where they meet the base to seal the knot.

Fill a large bowl with the warm water and dissolve the baking soda. Holding the pretzels by the pinched ends, dip into the water for a few seconds and then blot on a towel to dry the bottoms. Place on a greased baking sheet, sprinkle with pretzel or kosher salt and bake until golden, around 12 to 15 minutes. Brush with melted butter when they are still hot.

As stated above, I love the process of making yeast breads. The smell of them cooking is so incredibly comforting, I can just close my eyes and be back in my babysitter's kitchen, waiting impatiently for the deliciousness baking away in the oven. The entire process is a joy to me, and again, the smell! Making these pretzels was fun because I got to play around with twisting my very own pretzels. This time around, being the perfectionist that I am, I was very careful about twisting them into just the right shape. And I must say, they turned out beautifully, all golden brown and delicious. I will definitely be making these again sometime soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Farmer's Market

This is a shout out to Elizabeth, who has been badgering me to join her down at the local farmer's market in our home town for some time now. Since the market runs from 9-12 on Saturday mornings, I've been reluctant to join because I value my sleep-in time very much. But being one of my favorites, I finally agreed to meet her down there. For a small town market, it has really flourished in Granville, with a great variety of vendors from home made sausages and cheeses to all kinds seasonal produce and locally grown flowers. 

One of the vendors was a woman that made all kinds of beautiful pies and pastries, both sweet and savory. I was very excited by her variety of personal sized treats, they were all so cute! 

I have always loved the feel from farmer's markets, the raw freshness of it all, the smells. The pride on the faces of the people selling their produce. There is a level of respect that I feel they deserve, with their deliciously imperfect looking stock just waiting to be made into something wonderful. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Now that my senior year is in full swing, I'm getting the feeling that the frequency at which I will be posting is going to diminish. So with that ominous feeling, it looks like I'm going to have to dip into my reserve of posts (which are also very few!). I realized the other day that I have not posted one of my photography related posts in quite some time. Actually, this will only be the second one, so hopefully I can start to pick up on these and share some of my artwork.

For those who may not remember from my long ago post, these images that I am sharing are ones from last spring's advanced photography class at Ohio Wesleyan. I chose to do food photography (big surprise) and these are the results.

If you are wondering what exactly you are looking at, these are tomatoes. What I love so much about this body of work is the mystery of how certain foods are going to turn out. For these posts, I plan to include a recipe related to the food pictured, so here you go!