The Sexy Beast. And pretzels.

17 Oct


It came in and conquered.

Yes, I’ve referred to my red KitchenAid food processor as my lover, but this…this being entered like a storm. I had lusted after a red KA mixer for ages. And I got one for my birthday. I had been making due with a hand mixer that no longer would go to it’s highest speed and just stop when faced with a dough that was even remotely stiff.

Suddenly there is a world open to me that was not there before: perfectedly kneaded bread doughs, whipped egg whites, perhaps the ice cream maker attachment will come into my life at some point.

You will note that it is red. Largely because it is so goddamn sexy. It is unnerving just how bodacious a kitchen appliance can be.

It is fitting that I have a red mixer because I am a Cardinals fan. If you are born in St. Louis they inject a hefty dose of Cardinals Baseball into you at birth.

I finally went to a game here in LA:

It is a bloody exciting time. The Cards versus the Dodgers. Whoever wins the series National League Championship Series goes to the World Series.

I hadn’t been to a game in ages and I loved it. Baseball is a meditation laced with moments where a maniac fan-monster takes over your body and you are screaming and hollering like an idiot. And then you settle in and watch some more. Love it.

I had been thinking about pretzels in honor of Octoberfest for a while. And thinking about baseball also had me thinking about pretzels. The big soft kind.

In my mind pretzels are not the sort of thing one can REALLY achieve at home. They are something you go somewhere to get. The only people who make them are the type of people who craft at home other foods you normally buy. Like Oreos.

Who friggin’ makes Oreos? Only overchieving vegans (Oreos are already vegan) and creepy bloggers who somehow think a gluten-free, date-infested, coconut cream-filled thing that looks sorta like an Oreo deserves to be called a “homemade Oreo”. I have news for them: it doesn’t matter what you name that monstrosity, or what it looks like, because it is not an Oreo. It is a travesty.

I thought I couldn’t achieve a pretzel. But I had the power of the Sexy Beast, and there seemed to be no better way to break it in.

I was nervous. I was suspicious. I did not do the best job shaping these. But as I removed them from the oven, I ripped into one. Let it cool for a moment then put it in my mouth.

My god. It was that pretzel taste. With the nice skin on it and everything. Holy moly I felt like a genius. Or a magician. Or Martha Stewart.

Or at least god.

big soft pretzels from America’s Test Kitchen’s Baking Illustrated
1 tsp. instant yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. salt
3 cups of bread flour plus more as needed
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
Oil for bowl
3 Tbsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt or otherwise large salt
Mix yeast, honey, salt, flour, and water in a stand mixer. Use a dough hook to knead until the dough forms a smooth, elastic ball, about five-seven minutes, adding a bit of extra flour af absolutely necessary.
Place in an oiled bowl and turn to coat dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, between 45 minutes and 1 1/2 hours. Punch down. Allow to rise until doubled again-30-40 minutes.
Put I’ve rack in the middle and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 6 cups of water and baking soda into a 12-inch skillet and heat to a boil.
Meanwhile line a baking heet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.
Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll into ropes. I failed in getting them to the recommended 20 inches but you can try. Shape into pretzels. If you don’t know what a pretzel is shaped like…just google it. Put them on baking sheet. Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to put them in boiling water, top-side down. After 30 seconds use tongs or something like that to flip and boil another 30 seconds. Make sure they are well drained before you put them back on prepared sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake between10 and 18 minutes-until nice and brown, turning the baking sheet after about 7 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Admire yourself.

7 Responses to “The Sexy Beast. And pretzels.”

  1. sippitysup October 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    I’m just tuning in. And I guess you know what happened on the baseball front. So I’ll leave that alone. Because I can’t decide from reading who you root for. We both live in LA, so there’s that. But you have MO roots (like Brad Pitt) so there’s that. Hmm. I’m not really leaving this alone am I? Is there food in this post I forgot. XOGREG

    • Ellen October 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      Oh! I am a Cardinals fan. So it will be about another week before I can relax. Baseball fandom is exhausting. Oh yeah-the food is excellent. You should make pretzels. And get some fancy mustard for them. Forgot to mention that.

      Sent from my iPhone


  2. Whitney @ To Live & Diet in L.A. October 27, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    These pretzels are making me drool. I used to love getting big, soft chewy pretzels from the movies with a tub of nacho cheese. I might just have to try this recipe and come up with a healthy nacho cheese substitute! Unfortunately I do not have a sexy beast 😦

    Think this recipe would work with whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat?

    And so funny about the freaky vegans making fake Oreos….I although I definitely fall into the category of bloggers who call their Frankenstein creations homemade versions of the real thing.

    • Ellen October 27, 2013 at 11:29 am #

      Hmm, I have only made this with bread flour and yeast breads can be finicky, so I’m not sure about switching them. I imagine you could sub for maybe part of the flour though at least! Let me know if you come up with a good nacho cheese sub! That’s a “frankenfood” I would welcome:)

      Sent from my iPhone


  3. Sabrina Bolin November 5, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    Your sexy beast creation is very impressive – I would LOVE a soft chewy pretzel to dig my teeth into!

    • Ellen November 6, 2013 at 12:36 am #

      The beast says thank you, and winks at you. It’s both sexy and a pick-up artist;)

      Sent from my iPhone



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