A few days ago, friends, A Stove With A House Around It turned two.
It is hard to believe that two whole years have elapsed since that dull evening in January 2008 when I decided that I was too creatively and culinarily pent-up to continue without some sort of outlet. And so I wrote on that day, "Always a fan of metaphor (and hyperbole), this blog represents the overwhelming importance of food in my life -- to the exclusion of shelter itself. Kidding. Maybe."
Well, considering we do have several roof issues that cause troubling leaks every winter -- and I am instead dreaming of how exactly I wish to use our limited resources to remodel our perfectly serviceable kitchen -- it looks like my manifesto was right on the money. And though I originally envisioned this space as dedicated mostly to the recipes and memories of my youth, it has happily evolved into a record of the food, people, places and experiences that make up the day-to-day fabric of my life. It has been my pleasure sharing it all with you, and I hope you've enjoyed yourself here. After all, without you, there is just a lot of echoing in this space as my lonely words bounce off the heading and the sidebar.
So. How to acknowledge this second birthday? I could bake a cake. But I have a feeling I'll be doing that this weekend, as Sister turns, like, 90 or something. No. I think I'll make some pretzels. As I did last year at this time to celebrate birthday #1. Yes. I believe I shall make birthday pretzels a yearly tradition: each year this blog grows a little older, I'll share another pretzel recipe I've found. Because I do believe a full life is one lived in the presence of many pretzel recipes.
For your second birthday, little blog, I've made you some of Alton Brown's hot pretzels. Just about everything Alton makes is a win and you, my HTML progeny, deserve the best. (And, yes, these beat last year's Martha Stewart recipe by leaps and bounds, in terms of crusty browned flavor and soft yeasty interior). So sidle up to the kitchen counter and help yourself to some yeasty, salty goodness.
And happy birthday.
HOMEMADE SOFT PRETZELS
Adapted from Alton Brown
1 1/2 c. warm water (110-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 T. sugar
2 t. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling over the pretzels
2 1/2 t. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 c.)
2 oz. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Olive oil, for bowl
Non-stick spray, for pan
10 c. water
2/3 c. baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T. water
Combine the water, sugar and 2 t. kosher salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Whisk together to dissolve the sugar and then let stand until the mixture bubbles and foams, about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and butter to the yeast mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Then switch to medium speed and knead until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and forms a ball, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, then coat the bowl with a few teaspoons of olive oil. Return the dough to the bowl, rolling to coat it in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot in the kitchen until the dough doubles in size, 50-55 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then spray with non-stick spray (or brush with olive or vegetable oil). Set aside.
Bring the 10 c. of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot.
While the water comes to a boil, turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope then, holding the ends of the rope, cross the ends over each other and press into the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place the formed pretzels onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.
Place the pretzels in the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds each. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula, letting as much of the water drain away as possible.
Return the boiled pretzels to the parchment-lined baking sheet, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg yolk and water mixture, then sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake until the pretzels are a deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 large, gorgeous hot pretzels.
Gee Dianne, what were you cooking in years past?
One year ago: pan-fried tofu with spicy lemongrass sauce
Two years ago: chocolate chip cake