Life & Style

Baking bits: Recreating German Soft Pretzels

I think we can all agree that the most important tool in a kitchen is an very old church cookbook; in my kitchen that means a worn copy of the Viola Methodist Church Cookbook 1984 edition. No matter how healthy it is, there is no trendy food that can top one of my family member’s tried and true recipes that fill the pages.

However, just because they’re tried and true by others, doesn’t mean they’re tried and true by me. As you can imagine, being a college student doesn’t leave much time to spend in the kitchen. I typically rely on my family to send me cookies in a care package instead of relying on my own will.

But when times get tough, as they sometimes will, the best thing you can do is ignore your homework and work out your problems pummeling and pulling some sticky bread into twisted, soft and salty pretzels.

The German soft pretzel recipe has been one of my favorites since I was little and I thank my lucky stars for the church parishioner who submitted it. Not only is the lightly salted version good on its own but you could easily sprinkle cinnamon-sugar instead of kosher salt, dunk in honey-mustard sauce or twist the dough into flow shapes instead of a traditional knot. This recipe is great to experiment with.

This recipe is also great for kids (and college students who don’t bake often) because it allows for mini-catastrophes. I made the novice mistake of not reading the recipe carefully and let the dough rise for a half-hour before realizing I had completely forgotten to add the oil; aka the fatty goodness.

Following a thirty-second panic that I would have to scrap the whole batch and spend money on new ingredients, I was able to kneed it into the puffing dough and set it back to rise all over again.

If there is one thing my mother taught me, it’s that “what the consumers don’t know won’t hurt them.” While now all of you know my failure, The Daily Cardinal staff members who ate the pretzels enjoyed them in blissful ignorance.

I hope that one day I can be as expert a baker as the ladies who submitted the recipes and my grandmother who flies around the kitchen like a natural.

Ultimately baking in any kind of college housing can be very challenging, but the warm and buttery reward can beat the walk to Gordon’s every time. Don’t let minor catastrophes get in your way because the tried and true recipes of old church cookbooks have been tested by generations of bakers far worse than college novices.

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