Kim and her pretzels
There are certain foods and beverages served during Lent that have special meaning. These foods reminds us that Lent is a holy season with prayer, penance and fasting all being part of the Lenten tradition. One of the most important (and fun to make!) is pretzels. Today I chatted, as I do every Thursday about Bible foods & herbs, with Matt Swaim on the Sonrise Morning show on Sacred Heart radio. One of the items that represent foods for Lent was pretzels.
The pretzel has a deep spiritual meaning for Lent. In fact, it was the ancient Christian Lenten bread as far back as the fourth century. In the old Roman Empire, the faithful kept a very strict fast all through Lent: no milk, no butter, no cheese, no eggs, no cream and no meat. They made small breads of water, flour and salt, to remind themselves that Lent was a time of prayer. They shaped these breads in the form of crossed arms for in those days they crossed their arms over the breast while praying. Therefore they called the breads “little arms” (bracellae). From this Latin word, the Germanic people later coined the term “pretzel.”
The pretzel is the most appropriate food symbol in Lent. It still shows the form of arms crossed in prayer, reminding us that Lent is a time of prayer. It consists only of water and flour, thus proclaiming Lent as a time of fasting.
BUTTERY SOFT PRETZELS
My neighbor, Kim, brought a plate of these pretzels over for me to try. Two thumbs up!
Makes 1 dozen
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two more tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease or spray 2 baking sheets.
In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water; set aside. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8 minutes.