Monday, March 9, 2015

Wonderful Gluten!

Yesterday, I had the bright idea to juice-fast but was seduced from the liquid path by a trip to the thrift store.  I was walking the aisles hoping to find a raclette (miracles do happen at Goodwill) when I saw an appliance on the American end of the culinary spectrum:  a bright yellow pretzel maker.   I put it in my cart and wandered around for a while failing to find a raclette.

The background to the pretzel impulse was a family trip to a gastropub.  Hot pretzels with mustard or, god forbid, liquid cheese dip, proved popular.  The yellow pretzel appliance implied that I could make delicious carby-twists at home.  Then I got thinking.  Surely the appliance would only cook the pretzel.  There were little pretzel-shaped depressions in the non-stick base which would, presumably guide me to shape my dough but nowhere was there any dough extrusion equipment.  I googled and my suspicions were confirmed - the one star reviews said "This is fine for people who like to make bread!"

"Well, hell yeah!"  Father than act as a deterrent, I was now inspired.  I like to make bread.  I could make pretzels.

On return from the thrift store I found the family in their usual head-down-in-electronics mode and dragged Frost into the kitchen to make pretzels with me.  We pulled up the first recipe and Frost read it out while I ran around the kitchen grabbing ingredients.  Yes, don't ask me how we happened to have non-expired Active Dry Yeast and cows milk and barley malt syrup in the house at the same time.  I have already spoken about miracles once in this post so I won't go there but it happened.

It turns out pretzels are a lot easier than bread.  You throw the yeast into warm milk, add flour and sugar and stir, bang it about a bit and let it double in size.  Then, bang it around a bit more, make 30 inch long worms in pretzel shapes, dip into boiling water with baking soda and malt in and bake for 12 minutes!
The first pretzel worm being formed (30 inches is long!)
Frost forming his pretzel

Wren with the malt soda bath "It looks like erupting root beer"  (don't know what that expression is on Wren's face)
The fattest pretzel.  Others were better proportioned
Eating pretzels with mahjong

  • We had pretzels in 90 minutes 
  • Frost learned to knead dough
  • Josh tapped into his long-unused expertise in dipping bagels in a malt-bath
  • We used the Murray River Gourmet Salt Flakes we've had for ages.
  • It was fun to make pretzels.
  • It was fun to eat pretzels.
  • The kitchen was a mess.  Dough is basically glue.
  • I ate 1.5 pretzels on a juice fast day.
  • The family divided along the yellow mustard vs dijon mustard lines and as usual Josh was the only one on the yellow-mustard side BUT there was no smooth dijon mustard so our pretzels were, to an extent, unrequited.
 We ate the pretzels while learning (re-learning) to play mahjong.  This was surprisingly complex.   More on that later.