Food has this incredible power to transport us back to a person, place or memory. This week, making pretzels, I initially felt sad because I felt so much loss. I have been fortunate to travel to Germany on many occasions, and being that I love bread and salt, the Bavarian pretzels were always a highlight of my trip.
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First, Some Backstory…
My last trip there, in April 2019, was also one of my last trips with my dad before he died. I think he got a kick out of me in Europe, where suddenly bread and butter and wine are not just for once in awhile but for every day. So making these pretzels, I really miss going to Germany, and I really, really miss my dad. But I’ll never forget on that trip how he leaned over when we were out to lunch (taking shots of some black market alcohol that the owner of some hole in the wall restaurant gave to us) and said, “you see how lucky we are to be here and have this experience?”
And yes, I was so lucky to have that experience. I’m also lucky that I can create something that brings him back to me, reminding me that there is no time and space, that these memories and experiences last forever, and that it’s okay to surrender to the sadness because on the other side of that is love.
So today I’m slicing these pretzels and buttering them, German-style, in honor of him. Except I still used vegan butter because there’s just no coming close to European butter, and I refuse to miss out on a chance to make my dad roll his eyes at me. He still always ate anything I made, even if he did pronounce it “vay-gun”.
PS – go to @rachelrwyman for the original recipe. My variation is below.
Now, Let’s Bake!
- 2 1/2 cups organic bread flour (I used a half wheat one)
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Miyokos vegan butter
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- Maldon salt
Add the flour, yeast, salt, butter, water and sugar into a mixing bowl with a dough hook. Mix on low speed until combined. Turn to medium/high speed, and mix for 10 minutes. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes.
Divide into 8 equal portions. Roll them into little logs. Let them rest for another 30 minutes.
Starting from the middle of the logs, roll with both hands into longer logs. Grab the ends, and sort of like a jump rope, swing the dough so that it gets long and skinny. Shape the pretzels (I recommend checking out Rachel’s stories for video on this).
Place pretzels on a baking sheet, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, combine water and baking soda in a wide pot on your stove. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
Remove pretzels from fridge. Place in the water for about 20 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to gently remove them, letting the excess water drip off. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
Rachel tip: Make sure the nubs of the pretzel strands are down on the sheet so they don’t pop open when you bake them.
Sprinkle generously with salt.
Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes.