There isn’t much news this week, other than to say that Hunted Fate releases in paperback on 10/17 and I’m soon going to start running some giveaways and promotions. Stay tuned.
In other news…
Warning: Food rant incoming. Why have pretzel buns become so hard to find in stores? They used to be everywhere. Now my last holdout, Kroger, has quit carrying them. I love pretzel burgers, but I don’t want to have to go to a restaurant to get one. So, with fall upon us and cooking seeming once again appealing, I’m launching a quest to make my own.
So far, the best recipe (defined as a combination of taste and ease of baking) I’ve found is provided below. There are plenty of others and I may yet find a better one. For now, though, if anyone else is on a quest, here’s a good solution.
(Courtesy of Sally’s Baking Edition)
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (lukewarm– no need to take temperature)
- 1 packet active dry or instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 and ¾ – 4 cups (460-500g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling
BAKING SODA BATH
- ½ cup (120g) baking soda
- 9 cups (2,160ml) water
- Whisk yeast and warm water together. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Meanwhile, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter (reserve the rest for step 6). Whisk in salt, brown sugar, and melted butter. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon or dough hook attached to stand mixer until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more, as needed. Poke the dough with your finger – if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. (At this point, it dough can be frozen. See freezing instructions below.) Place in a large greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm environment for 1 hour or until nearly doubled in size. (Tip: You can preheat your oven to 200°F (93°C), turn it off, place the dough inside and shut the oven. This is the warm environment.)
- Once risen, punch dough down to release any air bubbles. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and, with a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 1/3 cup sections. You should have about 12. Shape into balls.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats OR line a 9×13 baking pan (I use a baking pan.) Set aside.
- Bring baking soda and 9 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Drop 1-2 pretzel rolls into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste. Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel roll out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place pretzel rolls onto prepared baking sheet or close together in the baking pan. Using a sharp knife, score a couple slits into the top of each.
- Melt the remaining butter. Lightly brush each roll with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Bake for 22-26 minutes or until a deep golden brown on all sides.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm. Pretzel rolls may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days (they lose a little softness).
The Reading List
Crash Override, by Zoe Quinn. This is Quinn’s story about being at the center of gamergate and how it impacted her life. If you don’t know about gamergate, the linked article is a starting point. Basically, a woman involved in video game development became the target of extreme online harassment after an ex-boyfriend started a smear campaign against her. The mess highlighted issues of sexism in gaming and geek culture at large. There’s a lot to be learned here, particularly for anyone who conducts much of their life online, or who participates on/in geek culture websites, blogs, and message boards. The expensive lessons Quinn learned can teach us much about tolerance, inclusiveness, and better internet hygiene.
(Photo courtesy of KRiemer)