Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bend Me, Twist Me, Any Way You Want Me...

Edit April 1, 2008: No, it's no April Fool's joke - my new Daring Bakers friend Chriesi, of Almond Corner, and I have decided to undertake a different kind of challenge! Since we just joined the DB's in March, we are going to go back and do all of the challenges that we missed - only then will we be TRUE Daring Bakers! See Chriesi's lovely, yummy post here!
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OK, so I tend to think of song lyrics &/or titles that are appropriate for most situations. I'll just tell you that right now.

In my last blog, I mentioned the Daring Bakers group. I'm like out-of-this-world excited to be joining them in their baking endeavours, but was saddened when I learned that I won't be able to officially START till the March challenge. But that's OK; totally respect that. I also thought of a great way to feel like I was doing something "with" them anyway. I don't want my excitement to die down while I'm waiting, dammit!

To that end, I decided to make something that the Daring Bakers have done in the past. Whoohoo! But...WHAT, I wondered? Since their inception in Nov. '06 they have made some beautiful, challenging, and (yes, I'm saying it) DARING recipes come to life in the pages of their blogs. The participants run the gamut, from novices to people who like to cook/bake to professionals. I'm not a novice, but I'm sure as hell not a professional; I didn't want to do something so freaking showy that I had no option but to fail.
I contemplated; I perused the blogs of both Lis and Ivonne, the illustrious founders. After much of both, I thought, 'What better recipe for ME to start off with than the one that started the group in the first place?!' Thus, I chose Hot Buttered Pretzels as my pseudo-DB challenge. It was easy to do since I already had the ingredients at home (yeah, even the yeast)!

I knew that this recipe would be a challenge, in that I used the aforementioned yeast to attempt to make a nice, yeasty bread around Christmastime. However...with much chagrin - and little surprise - it just didn't turn out for me. I don't know if it was just my inexperience with yeast, the fact that I put my lump of dough into a slightly warmed oven and forgot about it until I pulled a beige briquette out the next morning, or what. I'm still trying to figure that one out....but I digress. Making these pretzels was only the second time in my life that I've made something with yeast. I wondered what I was in store for, but took a deep breath and jumped on in.

When I started pulling out ingredients, I noticed that the yeast I had wasn't the instant the recipe called for - but after looking online I decided it shouldn't matter too much. I proofed it in the warm water before mixing it with the flour, and it seemed to do well. Being the parent to a 4-year-old, I was naturally going to have some help doing when it got to the kneading stage I let her have a little pinch of dough to do her thing with (this helped me immensely, by the way).

I really liked kneading, and started right-handed even though I'm a lefty (I don't know why; it just felt like the right thing to do - pardon the pun). When I changed hands I realized that I'm definitely a left-handed kneader. You get a little system/rhythm going on - I see why people say it is great to knead when stressed! After going for the instructed 8 minutes, I let it rise for a little over an hour, maybe 1:20 - I wasn't sure if it needed to sit longer since it wasn't the instant yeast, but really, it seemed to quit rising after the hour was up.

The dough was very elastic when first working with it. It'd spring back a good 2-3 inches when I rolled it into a rope. As I went along, however, it became easier, and although they didn't look like I'd been working in a bakery all my freaking life, they did look all right.

Just resting a bit before going into the oven - Hawaiian sea salt sprinkled liberally upon each

Finally - after letting them go an additional 3.5 minutes - they were ready! 'If these suckers taste anywhere near how good the dough tasted,' I thought, 'then I feel an addiction coming on.'

Let's just set up the IV right now, eh?

These little jewels definitely did NOT disappoint! And oh. ma. ga. they tasted like big ol' soft pretzels! Sweet mother of God, I had to stop myself from eating a 2nd one (this WAS after supper, mind you). Hubby's been sick so I didn't offer him one, but the Small One - who had been chomping at the bit - was quite pleased.

I love this precious face (and the person who goes with it) a gajillion times more than these pretzels - and that's a lot.

I would absolutely make this again. It was SO much easier than I anticipated - and so much more fun, too! Now I'm really looking forward to officially becoming a Daring Baker (maybe I'll learn how to trim down the length of a flippin' blog while I'm at it). Lis and Ivonne, I hope you are proud - I sure am!

Yomp, yomp! Slowwwwwly disappearing....


Lis said...

Awwwww we couldn't be more proud! Yay for you! They look lovely.. and now you've got me craving soft pretzels again. heee!

You lil doll is a adorable. :) I'm glad she liked them too!

Just a couple more weeks!! hehehe

This was a real treat.. thank you, Amy. :)


TwentiesDecoDoll said...

those look incredible!


love you!

Amy J. said...

Thank y'all!

Anna, we'll have to make them - right out of the oven they are exquisite.

HoneyB said...

Hi there, just wanted to say I am sharing your enthusiasm for the daring baker march challenge as it is also going to be my first one!

Amy J. said...

Yay, HoneyB! We're in it together, girl! :) Have you done yours yet? I just finished earlier today. Pret-ty good, I must say!

chriesi said...

How cute!
I could not wait and baked them yesterday. If you like check it out!

Tracy said...

I've been meaning to go back and catch up as well!

And sad to say, my posts have not gotten shorter since I've been in the group for four months or so. Some of us must be more long-winded than others!