Thursday, February 26, 2009

Soft-Baked Pretzels for Lent

Legend tells us that the criss-crossed pretzel shape was first made by monks more than 1,000 years ago. The pretzel design resembles arms crossed over the chest in penitent prayer. "Pretzel" may have come from the Latin word bracellae, meaning "little arms."

During Lent, we make these pretzel shapes in remembrance of Jesus' suffering and death, and thank Jesus for His love and sacrifice for us.

If you make your own, or eat a treat at Aunt Annie's pretzel shop at the mall, tell your children of the pretzel shape significance. Here is a recipe if you want to make homemade soft-baked pretzels with your family during this Lenten season. Sometimes we make cross and heart shapes too.


4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package Rapid Rise Yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Set aside 1 cup flour.

In large bowl, mix remaining flour, undissolved yeast and salt.
Heat milk, water and oil until hot to touch (125º to 130º); stir into dry ingredients.
Mix in enough additional flour to make soft dough.
Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Divide dough into 24 pieces.
Roll each piece to 16-inch rope.
To make pretzels, curve ends of each rope to make circle; cross ends at top. Twist ends once and lay down over bottom of circle.
Place pretzels on greased baking sheets.
Cover; let rest in warm, draft-free place for 5 to 10 minutes, until risen slightly.
Brush pretzels with beaten egg mixture and sprinkle with selected topping.
Bake at 350ºF for 35 minutes or until done. Cool pretzels on wire rack.
If desired, select one of the following toppings: flavored salt (hickory smoked salt, celery salt, onion salt or garlic salt) or seeds (sesame seeds, poppy or whole celery seeds).
Herb Pretzels: Follow recipe adding 3/4 teaspoon each: thyme, marjoram and oregano (leaves).
(This recipe from CDKitchen makes 2 dozen.)

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