Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Best Blog Recipes: Peas and Thank You's Vegan Soft Pretzels

One of the best things I've gained from blogging is food inspiration. I read a good number of food blogs on a daily basis, and my weekly menus often include ideas I've found here in the Blogosphere. In fact, some things have even become staples in our kitchen, either in their original form, or adapted to match my own tastes.

There is so much inspiration to be found, and I delight in it.

It is only right and good that I share those recipes that really make us go 'oh my....YUM!!' as we sit down at the table; if I love them then I'm sure plenty of other people would too, and as we don't all read the same set of food blogs, it makes sense to spread the word! So, here is part one of my Best Blog Recipes series (that sounds a little too official, I must say)!

I'll blog about recipes as I cook them - not only because this gives me a good excuse to taste my favourite recipes again, but also because there is such a huge back-log of amazing ideas to cover that I'd be here all year trying to work out how to write them all down in as much detail as I can! Note that this isn't any form of recipe review; if it's here then Daniel and I loved it (one omnivore and one vegetarian, for a well-balanced spectrum of tastebuds!) - I'm not going to bemoan anything I've found that wasn't quite to my tastes, that's not my style!

So, for part one we have a bready treat, with Peas and Thank You's Vegan Soft Pretzels!

I used to live in Germany, where breaded pretzels - or Laugenbraetze, as they were known in Bavaria - were available on every corner. I often used to pick one up on the way back from a lecture, or as a snack while shopping, and rather quickly I became almost addicted to the way my teeth broke the golden crust, revealing the soft, doughy and incredibly white bread beneath. Actual heaven.

A few months ago I tried making them for the first time, using this recipe by the Hairy Bikers. The pretzels were tasty, there's no doubt about that, but they were too 'British'; a lot like very salty, pretzel-shaped crusty rolls: not the sensual revisit to Bavaria that I was really after!! Then, today, I fancied baking something. In fact, I needed to bake something, and having consumed more sugar than my teeth and blood can probably cope with over the past few days, it had to be something savoury. I'd come across the recipe in question a few weeks ago, and within minutes I was back to that webpage to check whether my cupboards were appropriately stocked!

Two hours later...

Ta da!

They look rather yellow but I put that down to having used extra virgin olive oil rather than margarine. We topped half with caraway seeds and half with salt, but personally I think the salted ones look the best! So far I've had a caraway pretzel, which was increidble. I bit into it and Germany came flooding back; the crust was perfect, and the dough was white and a little cloying to the mouth - just as it should be. I have to say that while I was making this I was completely doubtful that it would work: the bread mixture was much thicker than I'm used to, and it was very hard to knead by hand. Still, with a little help from a cool oven it rose to double the size, and thus my optimism also grew! We then boiled them in soda water (this isn't called for in the Hairy Biker's recipe), which was very exciting! This was a fun recipe to cook together, especially once the dough had risen, and I bet it would be extra fun to make these with kids (or fully-grown boyfriends who are un-used to baking...!).

Next time you wake up on a rainy Sunday, I fully recommend that you try these! A great healthy snack, which we've wrapped up ready for lunches tomorrow, and lots of fun to create! You could also top them with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cheese, pepper...the options are endless!

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