A long, long time ago in a kingdom far, far away there was a family with six children. The youngest of these was a little boy who was so starved for attention that he would go to great lengths to be noticed by his family. He tried comedy acts which brought brief attention but required long hours of dreaming them up, planning them, finding the appropriate time to perform them, and making them look spontaneous. (I should mention that the little boy is older now but still devotes a fair amount of time to this.)
Observing his youngest sister on a few occasions, who was equally starved for attention and was further saddled with middle child syndrome, he noticed that she started making a coffee cake recipe which, although it took some time, brought with it praise an accolades from the other family members. They started heaping praise on her and spontaneously giving her attention by requesting that she make the coffee cake when they were hungry for something homemade.
So the little boy got an idea. He found a soft pretzel recipe and tried it on his family. The recipe took some time and a great deal of effort and the pretzels were somewhat dense, but the family loved them. They started giving him attention. He started making the pretzels more often. All was good.
But soon the boy realized it was a lot of work, and so he wouldn’t make the pretzels when the family asked. But they were clever. They started saying things like, “we’d make them, but they don’t come out as good as yours.” That worked for a while, and even stirred the boy into improving his own recipe. He looked up other recipes. He experimented with the recipe. He got advice from his grandmother, who was an expert at all sorts of breads and foods. The pretzels gradually became lighter and of better quality.
But again, he began to resist the effort of making them. Until one day when a sister, much older and more clever than he, came up with a new strategy. She began calling him “Pretzel King”, and began saying things like “Pretzel King makes the ~best~ pretzels” and spinning yarns about “the Pretzel Kingdom” and his “Pretzel subjects.” He so loved these stories that he went back to the kitchen to again make pretzels, passing the time and work with visions of his kingdom. The stories became more fanciful; the pretzels reached a pinnacle. The little boy had truly become “The Pretzel King.”
For many years the Pretzel King guarded his recipe, keeping it close and modifying it only slightly. In the advent of bread machines the most laborious part, kneading the dough, became much simpler. Later, he even added the use of commercial style mixers to the process. But now, for all to make, is the Pretzel King’s secret recipe.
Enjoy them. Make them for your family. Have your own fantasy kingdom.
Soft Pretzel Recipe
1 ¼ cup water (warm)
2 tablespoon Margarine
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
4 cups flour (or 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white)
1 tablespoon yeast
¼ cup baking soda
¼ cup Kosher Salt
In a bread machine add dough ingredients in order, or if kneading by hand, put the water, melted margarine, yeast and sugar in the bottom of a large glass bowl and mix until dissolved. Allow yeast to activate for 5 minutes. Add flour gradually, mixing well until it becomes too thick to mix. Then knead in the rest of the flour and add more until the dough is no longer sticky. Work the dough hard for 3 – 4 minutes until smooth, then set aside in a bowl in a warm area to rise for 30 min to an hour.
Pre-heat oven to 375° F. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts. Roll each dough ball into a 18” x ¾” rope, and twist into traditional shapes or braid into tiny loaves or wreaths.
Boil 4 cups of water and add ¼ cup baking soda. Blanch the pretzels in the solution until they float to the surface, and remove them with a slotted spoon. Place them on cookie racks to drip dry. Move them to cookie sheets. Prepare an egg wash by beating the egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Brush liberally on each pretzel. Sprinkle kosher salt on them to liking. Bake for 20-30 minutes until they are golden brown. Cool on cookie racks or eat while still warm.