Did you know that pretzels have a religious significance? Ever since I remember Mom always made pretzels with us growing up and taught us about the religious background. The traditional twists (the ones that look like a heart with an X in the middle) are a symbol of praying arms. See more on the history and significance of the pretzel here. These are so easy to make (and so basic too). I love it. I hope to make these every Monday in Lent (enough to have an accompaniment with any/all our dinners during the week). This video is great too in explaining the meaning to little ones (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww2fXnlyrXA).
Soft & Chewy Pretzels
adapted from: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/02/chewy-soft-pretzels.html
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
1 t sugar
1 T yeast
1 cup very warm water
1/2 cup warm water
2 T baking soda
coarse salt (optional)
3 T butter, melted (used about 7T since I omitted all the salt)
In a large bowl or in the electric, place flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix to combine. Add the water. Knead. Put in a greased bowl. Let rise until doubled. Combine warm water and baking soda; mix around until soda is dissolved (this works well in a pie plate). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (it may be good idea to grease the paper). Divide risen dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 'snake' (14-22 inches long). Make into a pretzel shape; twisting center pieces. Pinch each end to seal. Dip in soda water. Place on parchment paper. (4 pretzels only to each pan). Sprinkle with salt if desired. Bake one sheet at a time for 7-9minutes (watch carefully they get dark quickly) at 500. Brush pretzels with butter (until ALL butter is gone).
NOTE: I omitted the salt in the dough and sprinkling-glad I did since the butter gave it plenty of the salty flavor needed. MMMM....