Back in the day (my sons love to use that phrase), newspapers used to run recipe columns in their feature section — usually on Wednesday. When we lived in northern Indiana, the Goshen News had “Aunt Emma”. She would collect recipes, print a selection, and then ask for people to send in recipes for next week’s column.
I loved this column. Twenty-some years ago, I had four young children at home and they were hungry ALL THE TIME! So, I was always looking for new recipes.
And because we were in northern Indiana, many Amish and Conservative Mennonite ladies contributed their favorite recipes to the column.
One of the soft pretzel recipes came from Waneta of Goshen, along with this tip for seasoning the treats: “I use the salt in the bottom of a bag of store-bought pretzels.”
Amish Soft Pretzels with Mustard
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tablespoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose)
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water (no warmer than 115°) if using regular yeast. If you use instant yeast, mix it in with the other ingredients, and then add the water. Mix well.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
What does “smooth and elastic” mean? Believe me, you’ll know when you get there. The dough makes a subtle change in your hands and suddenly it’s working with you instead of fighting you.
Let rise until double (about 30 minutes) and preheat your oven to 450°.
Gently punch the dough into a ball and divide into twelve pieces. BTW – a pastry cutter works great for this!
Take each piece and roll it into a rope about 24″ long.
Once you get the rope made, it’s time to shape the pretzel.
There’s a trick to making an easy twist.
First, take the two ends and cross them.
Twist them again.
Then bring the ends toward yourself and press them into the loop.
And finally, use your index fingers on each hand to extend the loops up and out to form the pretzel shape.
In the old days, pretzels were dipped into a lye bath before baking. Yes, I know – lye sounds dangerous to me, too, so we use baking soda instead!
Dissolve 2 Tablespoons baking soda with 2 cups hot water in a shallow bowl. Once you have your pretzel shaped, dip it into the water,
and lay it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Now is the time to season your pretzels. I like mine lightly salted, so I use regular table salt. Coarse Kosher salt is traditional (and you can find a bunch at the bottom of a store-bought bag of pretzels!), or you can leave them plain.
If you like them sweet (and without the mustard sauce!), you can wait until they’re done baking, brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. Mmmm…..
Bake them for about 7 minutes at 450°, or until lightly golden brown.
IF you have leftover pretzels, you can freeze them. When you want one for a quick snack, just take one out of your freezer bag, run water over it for a second, re-salt, and then microwave. You’ll have to experiment with the time…we never have leftovers to freeze!
Two heartwarming Amish stories about second chances
Hannah’s Courtship by Emma Miller: When her friendship with veterinarian Albert Hartman begins to bloom into something more, widow Hannah Yoder wonders if she’s finally ready for a new love. But there’s more than friendship to consider. Albert is a Mennonite and Hannah cannot leave her Amish faith. Does Albert have the courage to give up his modern life for Hannah…and will Hannah have the courage to let him?
A Mother for His Children by Jan Drexler: Ruthy Mummert didn’t realized her new housekeeper position meant caring for ten children—and their handsome widowed father. To Levi Zook, Ruthy is too young and pretty to be anyone’s housekeeper, but a marriage of convenience will protect her reputation and give his children a mother. But could it also give them the courage to grasp a new chance at happiness?
Enter below for your chance to win one of five copies of Jan’s book!
Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of thirty-five years, where she enjoys hiking in the Hills and spending time with their expanding family. She is the author of The Prodigal Son Returns, A Mother for His Children (winner of the 2013 TARA award), and A Home for His Family (finalist for the 2016 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award), as well as Hannah’s Choice and Mattie’s Pledge.