Editor’s note: This reader recipe is an online addition to our September 2017 cover story, “Recipes from the heart.”

Quick pretzels

By Ron Glusenkamp

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty'” (John 6:35).

As a child, I heard many stories in Sunday school about the Holy of Holies, the most sacred space in the Temple of God. It was that place where God’s servants went to do what they were called to do on behalf of the people. I could only imagine what that must be like.

For me, our kitchen in our home was that holy space. It was the place were miracles happened. My two grandmothers and my mother were able to take basic, ordinary ingredients and when mixed with love created extraordinary feasts. I learned to bake by watching these high priestesses work their hands into the dough. They taught me how to follow a recipe not as a rule but more as a guide. A “pinch” of this and a “dash” of that all added to the equation.

The recipe that has had the most effect on me personally and professionally is Father Dom’s quick pretzel recipe. Pretzels are a sign and reminder of the Holy Trinity. Normally, there are three sections to the pretzel, each representing Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The ingredients are quite simple and basic. First you need flour, water, salt and yeast. A little bit of sugar can be added to the yeast to jump-start it. Milk is added to the flour mixture. Then after the dough has been “proofed,” you can twist or shape the pretzels. Lightly dip or “baptize” them into an egg mixture and you’re good to go.

I’ve made this recipe with first-communion students and their parents. It’s been the basis for team-building sessions with church councils and church staff. I’ve followed it by myself and also led groups of more than 120 people doing it. As the pretzels bake their lovely aroma fills the room.

Bake, eat and share. You might want to add a little mustard.

And remember, as Psalm 34:8 states, “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Ron Glusenkamp is director of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA.

Recipe (makes 16 pretzels)
Reprinted with permission from Father Dom

2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 3/4 cup warm milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
kosher or coarse salt

1. Combine yeast, brown sugar and water in a small mixing bowl; stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy.
2. In large bowl, stir together warm milk and salt. Stir in 4 cups of flour, one cup at a time. Mix in yeast mixture from small bowl.
3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 5 minutes, adding as much of the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup of flour as needed to form a smooth, elastic dough that is slightly sticky. Cover with a
towel and let rest 5 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
5. Cut dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12 to 14 inch rope. Twist each rope into a pretzel shape and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
6. Brush tops of pretzels with beaten egg and sprinkle with salt.
7. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and let cool briefly on wire racks. Serve warm.

Note from Father Dom: You can make these pretzels with water, but I like the flavor and texture of milk-based pretzels better. Serve the pretzels warm with pizza sauce or cheese sauce for dipping. If you divide the dough into few portions, you can make larger pretzels. Just be sure that all the pretzels on one baking sheet are the same size, so they will bake in the same amount of time.

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