June 02, 2007

It's Pretzel Time!

When I joined the ranks of the Daring Bakers a proud member of April's Epsilon class, I was excited about the challenges ahead of me, and the skills I'd develop as I approached each of them. I'd watched the previous months with a combination of awe and envy; I wanted to play along but knew my schedule wouldn't allow it at the time.

Enter one of our newest Daring Bakers, Tara of Should you Eat That, who has ambitiously agreed to go back and complete the coursework she's missed. Anxious to try some of the challenges I missed out on, I've decided to join her.

Our first course: Pretzels 101.

Back in November, our founders Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice) and Lisa (La Mia Cucina) decided venture together into territory neither of them had explored on their own. They pledged to take a single recipe for pretzels, each attempt it in her own kitchen, and post the results on the same day. Their pursuit of pretzels turned out to be a food-blogging tipping point... eight months later there are close to 70 of us communicating via email, text and instant message about the latest challenge.

Sorry... June's challenge is a story for another day. This morning I stepped back in time, pulling up the pretzel recipe that started it all and plunging in head-first.

I've never made soft pretzels before. I'd never *eaten* soft pretzels before. So I wasn't quite sure what to expect. In the end, with one exception easily attributed to user error I'm quite pleased with the result. I love how easily the dough came together. I elected to knead it by hand, and the process princess/efficiency empress in me loved coming away from that experience feeling refreshed both physically and emotionally. Who needs a personal trainer or a therapist when you're surrounded by flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water?!?

The human error? I failed to look at the pictures. My pretzels looked like hangman's nooses. Oddly macabre, but quite tasty. Fortunately John stepped in and showed me how to properly twist a pretzel.

To accompany the pretzels, I also made Golden Yellow Mustard, as published in this month's issue of Food and Wine magazine. French's, step aside. This is tasty (far less chemical in taste), inexpensive, and easy to make.

Curious how the others fared? Want the recipe to try them for yourself? Check out Ivonne's story, Lisa's and Tara's.

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18 comments:

KJ said...

What a great idea. I would join you if I had the time. I'm also a coward. I think you are very brave to face up to that crepe cake. I will pop back to see how you go. Best of luck.

Quellia said...

Congrats on the pretzels! And if it makes you feel any better - I have had soft pretzels, and made them, and followed the pictures, and still can't make nice "pretzel" looking pretzels!

Kristen said...

I love homemade pretzels and they are so much easier to make than people think. Yours look great!

Cheryl said...

Oh my soft pretzels. Living in the area I do, I would never think to try this on my own. What a great job you did.

I don't care what you think they look like, they all taste good going down with some mustard.

Deborah said...

OOhhh, I love soft pretzels. Yours look perfect to me. And with some spicy mustard....heaven!!

Udderly Delicious said...

Wow, those look great! I tried making them a couple years ago, but they got a bit water logged :( Tasty though.

I kinda like the long noose too, as though they're saying "Like me. Or else!"

Jenny said...

I just made pretzels too! So delicious, right?

Ivonne said...

Good job! I think your pretzels look great. Wish I could have tried one!

Tara said...

So glad to see you had a go at the pretzels - they look delicious!

Garrett said...

If they look like hangman's nooses, then serve them during Halloween! XD

Helen said...

Great job! They look delicious, especially with the dipping mustard.

Amy said...

I'm going to attempt some previous challenges too. Your pretzels look delish!

Anne said...

Your pretzels looks lovely! Wish I have the courage to make it as well :)

Lis said...

Wow those look delicious, Dolores! I'm so happy you guys are trying past challenges.. that's terrific!

Oh! And I am loving that mustard recipe, Hubbs has been buggin me a bit to make pretzels again, so I'll definitely make this mustard to go with them.. thank you!

xoxo

Peabody said...

The only challenge I didn't participate in...I really should make these.

DaviMack said...

Did you taste that mustard right when you made it? 'Cause I just followed your link & made the mustard ... and mine tastes absolutely vile. I'm going to wait & see what happens tomorrow ... but I'm wondering if you had the same experience.

Culinarily Curious said...

Hmmm... yes, I tasted it fairly close to immediately. It wasn't ready for prime-time at that point, but I didn't think it was vile. Just no more than a very rough sum of its parts. I'm sorry it didn't seem to work for you.

DaviMack said...

Oh, I'm sure it's something I did - I think I may've overcooked them during the part when the recipe says to toast them. Or maybe I didn't wait long enough to grind them (my spice grinder is unhappy with me, that's for sure).

It tastes like ... peanut butter. Something definitely roasted about it, and not at all spicy, which was what I was hoping I'd get.

Ahh well - to try again. That's why I buy mustard seeds by the pound. ;)