My Grandparents are coming to stay with us this weekend for the first time ever. I’m moderately freaking out.
Not because I’m not excited, I am, but I’m still anxious. My grandparents like the simple comforts that they can find within the piece and quiet of their own space in the country. Coming to Montreal is the polar opposite of that.
My apartment shakes when cars drive by.
I live in a large city that is loud.
I have a cat that sheds in clumps.
My Poppa hates cats.
Paul and I don’t eat meat…we don’t have a television…we drink espresso…we walk everywhere…
So yeah, I am moderately nervous to have these two people (my favorite two people) in our tiny space. Everything will, of course, be fine. I just want them to enjoy themselves and then…you know? Come back!
For the weekend I have a few things on the to-do list. We’re going to a restaurant where the servers are blind and you eat in the dark, we’re going to the old town, and I have a few jazz and bluegrass shows lined up for evening entertainment. If there’s one thing Montreal isn’t lacking it’s “stuff to do”.
But like, I still need a television…oof.
Having my Nanny come to visit has me reflecting on the old days growing up with her in the kitchen. Days where I would peak up at her smiling face as she flicked and dumped ingredients together for pie crust for my favorite pie and days where kneading dough by hand was the only option. Baking with my Nanny taught me how to read instructions, how to relax, how to get creative with recipes and how to listen. I love that lady.
Nowadays the majority of the things I bake are a far cry from the things I grew up eating, but the thing that always stays the same is the amount of heart that goes into each finished product. I feel like these soft pretzels are the product of that initial “love of baking” sentiment I had as a young girl. You have to patiently wait for the dough to rise (don’t worry, it’s under an hour!), then shape the pretzels, and then wait for them to bake. They’re worth it. Trust me.
What I love most about these pretzels is how they actually taste like the soft pretzels you can buy at a ball game or at a train station in Switzerland (seriously). They are soaked in a baking soda bath, sprinkled with salt and popped in the oven like regular pretzels, but once they are removed from the oven they are briskly brushed with warm butter. The brushed butter on these makes all the difference. Soft pretzels are one of my all time favorite foods and if I do say so myself, these are the dang best!
Did you grow up baking or cooking with a friend or family member? Tell me all about it! xx
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp (1 package) instant yeast
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-2 tsp melted unsalted butter, for greasing the bowl
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water, for brushing
- Coarse/flaked sea salt, for sprinkling
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Place the water, salt, sugar, and instant yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast. Add in the flour and mix just until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed, for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and quite slack (you may need to add a tiny bit more warm water at this point). Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with melted butter, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is dissolved. Pour mixture into a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
- Preheat oven to 475°F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and spraying it with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces. Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Working with one piece at a time, roll each segment of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28" long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Do this by first making a U-shape with the rope. Then, hold the ends of the rope and cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape (see photos).
- Working with 4 pretzels at a time, place them in the 9-inch baking pan with the baking soda/water, spooning the water over their tops; leave them in the water for 1-2 minutes and then flip them over and allow to soak for 1-2 minutes more.
- Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheet. Brush them with the egg wash and then sprinkle them with coarse or flaked sea salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- Bake the pretzels for 9 to 10 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter - this gives the pretzels their perfect taste.
- Enjoy warm!
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour