I know this is becoming a bad habit but had to take a forced break again, making a few occasional visits to other blogs while I could steal some time off from work at office. One of my colleagues has concluded that I suffer from 'compulsive internet disorder syndrome', as I was terribly frustrated that our connection at home had disrupted again....and because I would reach out for the net every minute I could spare while at office during these last two weeks! Oh yes! - I missed writing and kept tapping on imaginary keyboards at times. I hope I passed off as a genius pianist rather than a loony blogger!

I obviously utilised the time well, as my husband says he saw me in rooms other than the childrens' room which has our comp., and actually walking instead of stuck to the chair! I helped my son with the 'Geeta Chanting' and the song for his competitions, played 'Scotland Yard' with the two, finished 'A swiftly tilting Planet' by Madeline L'engle (A review here), and 'Wheels' by Arthur Hailey apart from the usual routine. Thanks Aparna for recommending Shashi Thuroor - I needed a few people telling me he's good and you happen to be the fifth person! I know which book I am going to borrow from the library when I return my current book!

When I first started this blog, I did not anticipate the time and energy required, or the enjoyment I would derive from it but life, as we know has an uncanny way of popping up the most interesting things at the least expected moments. Some of the things I found out were these:

That last discovery ends my rants and brings me to the purpose of this post! After a lot of debate and talking to the dough, the book (Yes! I do that all the time when I need to decide on anything, that way I always have the last say:)!), my kids and the significant other, I decided to try pretzels as this could be sent in for yeast spotting, a weekly round up of yeasty preparations in various blogs held by Susan, and to BBD - a lovely event started by Zorra, and hosted this month by Aparna.

I love the sound of the word 'pretzels' and it is the sole reason why I wanted to make it. I think it is the sound that my little fellow fell for too! Pretzels eluded me this long only because it involves rye flour. I haven't heard or seen rye flour in India, and google did not provide me with an Indian name for 'rye', so I got into an emailing session with Aparna who also confirmed that such a flour was probably not available here. I decided to replace with 'amaranth' flour instead. Amaranth is known as 'rajgira' in Marathi, and is a gluten free flour. The pretzels turned out well so I was quite satisfied with the whole thing. My recipe is adapted from 'The Bread Book' by Sara Lewis - Yes! I cling on to this book and it is a permanent fixture on my bedside table!

Here's some information on pretzels:
A scientific one at Wiki is here! A really good note on homemade pretzels, and how to shape them is available at The Fresh Loaf here. If you thought bread is not related to SCIENCE, you must look up this one! To summarise what I read - Pretzels should be not too soft, not rock hard(you may try a soft version by adding eggs, but that was a later development), but chewy! My book gave me two versions - the baked (hard), and the boiled and baked (Chewy). I divided the dough into 20 portions and tried both the versions. The book also tells me that these are German breads served with beer. Sizes vary from tiny to plate sized bread for tearing and sharing.

The baked ones were harder compared to the bagel like boiled ones which were softer and quite chewy! My son hated them as they were not sweet and there were no fruits in it! The rest of us loved and so did my neighbour 'K'.

2 cups - APF
1 cup - Whole wheat flour
2/3 cups - Amaranth/Rajgira flour
1 and 1/2 tsps. - Organic brown sugar (Unrefined)
1 tsp. - Salt
1 tsp. - Active yeast
1 and 1/2 cups - Warm water

To glaze
1 tsp. - Salt
1 tbsp. - Caster Sugar - optional
3 tbsps. - Water

1. Mix the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and set to froth.

2. Mix the flours in a bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt. Make a well and add the yeast mixture. Gradually add in enough warm water and make a soft dough (should not be sticky). Use only enough water and do not add all at once.

3. Tip out on lightly floured surface and knead until the dough turns smooth and elastic. Place it back inside the oiled bowl, and leave in a warm place to rise till doubled. Mine took about an hour and a quarter.

4. Tip out again onto floured worksurface. Knead well and divide into 20 portions. Shape each portion first into a long thin rope. Bring the two ends closer to shape a wide arc. Twist the ends towards you, turn them in and stick the ends to the sides of the arc. It is best shown here. I could not take pics as I was the only one awake at that hour. (Ok! I could not sleep as I dreamed about pretzels, got up at 4:30a.m. and made them!). My first few turned out really yuck, and when I got the hang of it, it seemed so easy that I rectified the earlier ones too! Here is one - each one was almost 2 inches in diameter.

5. Transfer to a greased bakin sheet and leave to rise for 1/2 an hour till plump. I put 12 on the sheet and kept the rest separately on a well greased plate as I wanted to do the boiled version as well.

6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 deg.C. till browned. I hope my oven isn't seriously slow - the book says 10 minutes whereas mine took a good 20 minutes plus another 5 minutes to brown on the top rack!

7. Make a glaze by combining the salt sugar and water. Heat on slow fire till the salt and sugar dissolve completely. I brushed them before I transferred the pretzels to the top rack, i.e., after they baked for 20 minutes. You also have the option of doing this after they come out completely. Sprinkle coarse salt if you would like. I omitted this as I felt that the salt in the dough and the glaze were lots, and it was a good thing I did!

What happened to the other 8 which had risen separately?

8. Bring about 4 cups of water with 2 tsps. sugar to a boil. Add the pretzels, lifting them up very slowly, and dropping them into the water. Add two or three at a time so that they do not stick. Cook for a few minutes and drain onto the plate with a slotted spoon. bake as for the earlier batch. These had a really good, chewy texture!

I tempted my son with some cream and my daughter loved the combo -

Ours was served with a humble chai, and this alternative was not at all appreciated by P! On such occasions P hates my being untraditional or innovative:) He lectured me on why the beer would have been a suitable choice!

(The pic 'Pretzels and chai' above goes to Click - Coffee and Tea)

My take on this one is - 'Daroo ke botal mein chai ka paani bharti hai, phir na kehna Sunshine Mommy peekar dangaa karti hai!' ;) like Pran says it in 'Majboor'. Me being a thorough movie buff these twists shall make appearances occasionally:)

I had been planning to take a click for Click - the Monthly theme based photography event held by Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi. Somehow I forgot, and when I did take the one above I forgot the event. Thanks Cham and Rachel for drawing my attention! I don't know what I would do without you ppl around!


If you liked this recipe you might like to try these from TONGUE TICKLERS.....
Crumpets - English Small bread
Herb Sticks - Flat bread like the one you get at Dominos
Rosetta Rolls
Wholewheat Buns

Thanks for reading all that rant and have a great day ahead!

Update - Useful video tutorial here.

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