Several months ago I ran across this recipe for pretzels based off the Auntie Anne's pretzel recipe, adapted for a bread machine. Before you could say "salt or brown sugar and cinnamon," I had printed off the recipe and stashed it in my "must make" pile. Where it sat. For months. Then we checked out a book by Eric Carle titled Walter the Baker that happened to be a fictitious tale about the invention of the pretzel. I thought about the pretzel recipe waiting to be attempted. But still, it sat. Then, I saw a friend's Facebook post about making pretzels. Again, I thought about the recipe. Again, it sat.
Today was a rainy day. Bingo. We pulled out the bread machine, the recipe, and Walter the Baker. While we waited for the bread to set so we could shape it, we read the story. Then we got down to the business of being Walter. I got a bit flour-covered. Audrey got a bit, ahem, drenched in the pretzel bath of water and baking soda. I failed miserably at pretzel-shaping. Audrey decided that pretzel shaping was overrated and focused her efforts on pounding the dough, shaking the sticky globs from her fingers onto the flour, and splashing what remained on the counter around the pretzel bath. I slid the "pretzels" into the oven, not really sure what would come out. They weren't pretty, but if that bothers you, close your eyes. It's worth it. That Walter, and the people at Auntie Anne's, were on to something. A perfect answer to a rainy day. No bread machine? No problem. This recipe, the one my friend made, uses an electric mixer. I hear they're yummy.
**In case you're wondering just where pretzels really came from (you know, besides Walter and an unfortunate incident involving his cat) they were first eaten during Lent. The shape of the pretzel was meant to symbolize a position of prayer (at that time, when in prayer, the arms were folded across the chest with a hand placed on each shoulder). "Pretzel" is derived from the Latin word bracchium, which means "arm".
~This little tidbit came from the back page of Carle's book. I seem to learn something each time I read one of his books to Audrey. I just love that about him.