Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Dead Sea in my kitchen

No luck yet finding my owner’s manual for la machine. We have a couple of drawers at home that generally house those sorts of things. You know, owner manuals, old coupons, dead batteries (why do people never throw these out?), tape measurers, an empty film canister. The junk drawer, in other words. I found books for two cameras, the satellite dish receiver, my old vacuum cleaner, the food processor, the stove, refrigerator, and stereo. No sewing machine. Tonight after the artist talk I’ll look under the eaves where I keep a lot of other junk, and, if I still don’t find it there, I’ll have to tear apart my studio.

After all that running around, I needed to find a way to calm down. Baking is always a good choice. Since I was craving something salty, I decided to make soft pretzels. I’ve never tried these before from scratch and thought it can’t be that difficult. I’m happy to report that mostly, I was right.

I used Alton Brown’s recipe. Can I just mention that I love him? A science geek who loves food, can it get any better? Got the oven cranked up to 450. See this?
Bad Oven Management
That’s how I have to keep the oven door closed. If we don’t stick a chair under the handle it doesn’t close tightly enough and takes about 40 minutes to get up to temperature and then doesn’t stay there. Okay, so oven is up and running. I mix the dough, but by hand, ‘cause Alton uses a fancy-schmancy mixer with a hook, which I so don’t have. Knead it for about 6 minutes. It looks like this.


Oiled up the bowl and let it rise. Since it took about 50 minutes, I went and watched an old Law & Order episode. Not Benjamin Bratt, I’m sorry to report. Went back in and got the water boiling. Here’s the fun part- it’s like making bagels! Roll out the dough, twist it up, drop it in the water and poof! It’s all big and soft and pale looking. Stuck them in the oven, and voila, soft pretzels.
Fresh from the oven: Alton Brown's Soft Pretzels

I will say, however, that Alton calls for the use of parchment paper which almost caught on fire in the 12 minutes it was in the oven. I’d make these again, but use either a silicon sheet, or turn down the oven a bit. Still, except for the black on the bottom, yummy!

Next time- macaroons!

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