Monday, July 23, 2012

13 Little Brown Pretzel Rolls


So there we were (Boyf and I), walking through the fair. We had just learned that the glassblower wasn't going to be there this year, and were a bit bummed. We passed by a booth on the outskirts, out near the produce, and something caught our eyes.

That's right, a basket of tamarinds. It turns out that there is an exotic fruit growers club around here. I want to join it! I really, truly do. I just don't have a yard. But someday, I will! And when I do, I shall become a member!

I squeezed in to get a better view of the tamarinds and take a picture, and a man working at the booth turned to me.

"Do you need me to move?" he asked.

"No, you're fine. I just wanted to take a picture of the tamarinds, because I have a blog, and the title is 'Only Strangers Eat Tamarinds', and I think it's really cool that-"

"Have you ever tried one?"

"No, actually, I-"

And he handed me one. Just reached into the basket and handed me one, making sure to warn me of the big black seeds.

So Boyf and I cracked it open and he documented me tasting it.

IT WAS SO GOOD (sorry for all the caps in this post. I am excited). It was bright and tangy, and sour enough to almost coat my tongue in that cottony sort of way. There wasn't nearly enough edible fruit on those giant seeds, and it was difficult to share-- but don't worry, I did. And we saved the seeds.

We spent a while talking with a man at that booth, and got to try a passionfruit as well. It was delicious! Slimy and tropical sweet with edible seeds that seemed to pop more than crunch (And here's a special hello to the mysterious J who overheard me mention my blog at the fair and sent me a book suggestion. Welcome to my blog! I can't wait to read that book.).

In keeping with the summery theme, this week's book is 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. This book is a light, fun, laying-by-the-pool sort of book…until the end. The end is frustrating and drove me crazy for years (literally!). I even reread the book (which I do love, by the way-- it captures a willing loneliness, a coming-of-age, and a whirling, traveling summer all while remaining at an unchallenging reading level, which is a nice break) and found myself once again upset by the twist it contains. ARGH.

Finally, I found relief. This past year, my friend (another afflicted with TLBE frustration) told me she had a book for me to borrow. Lo and behold, a SEQUEL. HOORAY! Questions were answered! Riddles were solved! Ends that were loose now are tied tightly in a beautiful little bow!

And I had another summery book to add to a list that I hope grows forever.

When Ginny (the story's main character) is in Denmark, someone refers to her as the "pretty girl with pretzel hair" because it's in two braids, which leads to the nickname "Pretzels" (which I can relate to! Everyone at work calls me Scones. No, seriously. I love it.).

Now let's stretch this connection out a bit to bring you some delicious pretzel bread! Yum! In fact, I think I'll go make some more right now, when my roommate isn't home to eat three in thirty seconds.

12 Little Brown Pretzel Rolls

2 c milk (at or approximately 110°F or 43 C. I put it in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Don't go too hot! You'll hurt your yeasties.)
1½ T active dry yeast
3/8 c (6 T) brown sugar
¼ c melted butter (again, I usually use unsalted)
3 c all-purpose flour
1½ c whole wheat flour (you can change the proportions of flour so long as you end up with 4½ cups total)
2 t salt

and also...
Bowl of warm water
Baking soda
Coarse salt
Melted (salted!) butter

1. Stir the yeast into the warm milk and let sit for about 3 minutes. Your new yeasty friends will start to party because you're feeding them.
2. Add the butter and the sugar to the yeast/milk and mix well. They'll be even happier!
3. Mix in all the flour, just a little at a time. I usually break it into thirds.
4. Mix in the salt.
5. Knead for 10 minutes. It's moments like these that I'm very, very glad for my beautiful KitchenAid stand mixer because I can throw on the bread hook, put it on the lowest setting, and do something else for 10 minutes. Thank you, Nani!!

6. Meanwhile, grease a big bowl and some plastic wrap. When the bread is kneaded, put  it in the bowl and lay the plastic wrap on top. Let sit until it doubles in size (Mine usually takes just under an hour).
7. Preheat oven to 375°F (190.6 C) and prepare a cookie sheet.

The rolls are camouflaged! Your genius Baketress put them on a matching cutting board.

8. Divide the dough up into 12 or 16 little balls (split it into two, then those into two each, then each of those into two or three). If you want, you can even divide it up into 13 little brown pretzel rolls! But that would be obnoxious. Sixteen is actually the easiest.
9. Mix up some warm water and baking soda. The ratio I used is about half a cup of baking soda to 3 cups of water, but the baking soda didn't all dissolve so I ended up mixing it multiple times.
10. Dunk the rolls into the baking soda and put onto the cookie sheet.
11. Use a serrated knife to slit the top of each roll.
12. Sprinkle each roll with some coarse salt. Brush them with butter if you'd like (but there will be more to come later).
13. Bake for 9-15 minutes.
14. Dunk in melted butter! Maybe some cinnamon or ginger sugar as well? Either way, they are stellar. Enjoy them thoroughly, because they are filling and soft and just the right amount of wholesome with that wheat flour.

These pretzel rolls are best enjoyed with a glass stein of beer from Copenhagen, the "Disneyland of beer".


  1. Great picture of you. When do I get to eat some of these?

  2. I'll take some too, please :)

  3. Dear Stephi:(msy i csll you Sconey?) what is TLBE? for those of us who are unenlightened!!! and by the way you still owe us some of those pretzel rolls. i love you and your blog is the greatest. Nani J. what is a URL?????????????

    1. I don't know about Sconey... And TLBE was just an abbreviation for Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes. I love you too and thank you! A URL is the website address.