Since I’m done with that horrible exam that will determine by future come November, I’ve decided a few things:
– I want to read more.
– I want to cook more.
– I want to participate in blog events more.
And with those goals, it only makes sense that I participate in the Cook the Books Club. I participated once, a while back, but school took over any ability I had to read. Joining this month was the right time to join. The August/September pick was The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy. Heather at girlichef made the great selection. The Baker’s Daughter is a story about Elsie Schmidt, a German teenager during the Nazi regime. Though the book takes us between Germany (the past) and Texas (the present,) the book focuses a lot of Elsie’s experience in Nazi Germany. Ever since I was a little girl I have been drawn to reading books about this period in history. It will always be my favorite genre of books. It was a good month to start Cooking the Books.
The Baker’s Daughter is full of mention of different delicious German foods. Elsie’s parents were bakers in Germany. In Elsie’s adult life, in her room in Texas, she runs a German bakery with her daughter. Some mentions of food include Roggenbort, Bauernbrot, Doppelback, Simonsbrot, Black Forest, Onion Rye, Pretzels, Poppy Seed Rolls, Brotchen, Marzipan Tarts, Amarettis, Kuchen, Cream Cheese Danishes, Almond Honey Bars, Strudel, Stollen, Orange Quittenspeck, and Lebkuchen. I can’t imagine how good the smells of the bakery were.
The story tells about Elsie’s encounter with a Jewish boy, Tobias. Elsie’s actions help save Tobias, an action that was brave beyond her years and put her own life in danger. While Elsie’s parents are out of town, Tobias helps Elsie make pretzels for the bakery:
“He was surprisingly skilled at pretzel making, knowing exactly how to roll and twist the dough for perfect knots.”
Tobias’s presence in this story had a profound effect on Elsie. It also had a similar effect on myself, as it showed Elsie for being the strong woman she was and explained so much about her.
I decided to try my hand at pretzels, for Tobias and for Elsie, an example of the brave Germans who protected others despite it putting their own lives at risk.
I’d never made soft pretzels before. I found a recipe for easy soft pretzels and WOW! These were wonderfully easy. I’ve always been intimidated by pretzels, which is why I’ve never made them. But I guess there was no reason for that intimidation. I sprinkled them with cinnamon-sugar and had one for breakfast this morning. Some of them turned out kind of goofy looking . . . but I did get one perfect looking pretzel.
10 1/2 cups warm water, divided
1 packet active instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1. In a large bowl combine 1 1/2 cups warm water and the yeast. Mix together with a spoon. Let sit for 1 minute. Stir in the sugar and salt.
2. A cup at a time mix in the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is thick. If after 3 cups the dough is too sticky, add another 1/2 cup.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Portion the dough into 1/3 cup portions.
4. Bring 9 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil in a big pot.
5. Take each portion of the pretzel dough and roll the dough into a rope of an even diameter. Once the rope is to your desired length, twist the dough into a pretzel.
6. Drop each pretzel into the boiling water, one at a time. Boil for 30 seconds.
7. Beat an egg in a shallow dish. Dunk the boiled pretzels into the egg, making sure to cover on both sides. Place the pretzels on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle the pretzels with salt, cinnamon-sugar, or topping of your choice.
8. Bake the pretzels at 425 for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to broil and bake for 5 more minutes.