Sweet And Crumby

Baking, a Love Story

Life is Twisted and So Are Pretzels


I’m out of things to say my friends, and I yet I sit here and write because it makes me feel better. It’s been a hard weekend. I stood with my mother at the bedside of one of my uncles today during the last hour of his life. I don’t have answers as to why some lives are so much more difficult than others. His life has always been difficult and yet honestly, he was mostly a really cheerful guy. How? I have no idea. I would not have endured with as much vigor and zest for life.

Cool new plate from Misadventures in Cooking Giveaway!

How do we rationalize our own good fortune? How can we ever be grateful enough and yet try to understand why others are suffering or have suffered their whole existence? Why me? Why have I been so lucky, and why have others not? The only explanation I have is that life is rather twisted and inexplicable and mostly unpredictable.

Pretzels seem a good fit for this post. I had made pretzel dough this morning to celebrate the Super Bowl. I had not twisted nor shaped them before I left for the hospital. And yet when I came back, sad and a little lost, being able to run the dough through my hands and twist was exactly right for me.

Although really, I only twisted one myself, and instead snapped pictures and barked orders to my husband and daughter about salting this or basting that (had to keep my hands flour free, egg free and salt free to touch my precious camera). It felt right, to make a mess, to not care that flour was here and there, and my counters were cluttered and the sink was full. It just seemed apropos and cathartic.

So, I am sorry this post is rather depressing, but it wouldn’t be right to pretend that things are rosy today and that my post really means anything at all.

In fairness to those of you who come solely for the food, the pretzels were marvelous (I can’t say that word, nor type it without thinking of Billy Crystal’s impersonation from SNL) and the spicy Dijon and honey dip was the perfect accompaniment.  They are an Alton Brown recipe, and they are pure pretzel heaven; soft on the inside with a touch of crunch on the outside and that yeasty taste that goes smashingly with salt and mustard and an ice cold beer.  I’ve made pretzels before but no recipe quite captured exactly what a pretzel should be until now, until this one so I highly recommend making them when you need to do a little dough work or feel like some twisting…

Soft and Chewy Pretzels with Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Pretzel Recipe taken directly from
Alton Brown on Food Network.
Makes 8-9 Large Pretzels
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Honey Mustard Dip
1/4 c. yellow mustard
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. honey


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.

Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in 8-quart pan or stockpot.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Roll out to a skinny 24 inch rope

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds, flip it over with a slotted spatula at 15 seconds. Remove from the water with the slotted spatula.

Place the pretzel on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath the rack to catch the drips, and brush the top with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce: Simply stir together both mustards and honey until well combined. That’s it. Dip those bad boys in the mustard and take a bite of pretzel heaven.

35 thoughts on “Life is Twisted and So Are Pretzels

  1. You make homemade pretzels look so beautiful! Definitely a recipe winner 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Coffee Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

  2. So sorry about your uncle; I will say a prayer for you and your family. Your pretzels look amazing!

  3. Sorry it’s been a tough weekend for you, Geni. As always, your writing draws me in, and your gorgeous photos and “food stories” leave me wanting more. I’m hoping tomorrow is a better day.

  4. One never comes home from a day like that unscathed. Life is a road of twist and turns.
    some times you are being rolled and stretched until you think you cannot go any farther but with Gods help we manage to endure it and make it through.

    Sorry for your loss.

    Thanks for the pretzels.

  5. I am sorry for your loss Geni. Thoughts are with you. I hope making the pretzels with your hands helped you work through some of this difficulty. Your pretzels are beautiful.

  6. Geni, sorry to hear about your loss (((HUG)))

    Those pretzels look beautiful.

  7. Hi Geni. I’m so sorry about your uncle. You’re ana amazing writer & person. Know I’m always thinking about you guys. Love all of you!

  8. Sorry for your loss Geni 😦 Death is a tragic yet inevitable thing…
    Thanks for sharing your pretzels with us

  9. Geni – sorry about your uncle. Even your brief description of him is inspiring to me. To be cheerful in the face of adversity is so very admirable. Sending hugs your way!

  10. Sorry, Geni, to hear of your family’s loss. My thoughts are with you and his loved ones.

  11. Sorry to hear about your uncle. Thanks for sharing this recipe too.

  12. I wouldn’t have wanted to read your blog written any other way than this, this morning. I’m so sorry for your loss and am at a loss to understand why some of us suffer so much on this earth. It must have meant so much to have had you there with him at the end. Baking is so cathartic, it’s my meditation and escape when life gets stressful. xo to you today and always, Smidge

  13. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Geni. Sending lots of hugs your way. My thoughts are with you and your family. These pretzels do sound amazing though, thanks so much for sharing. x

  14. I’m so sorry for your loss ***Air Hug***

    These pretzels look delicious and I can’t wait to try them.

  15. Geni, sorry for the loss of your uncle…and yes, I too wonder why so many people have such a difficult live…
    I never made pretzels but love the chewy texture of it…Hope you feel more comfort with time…

  16. I’m so sorry for your loss and glad that you could be with your Uncle at the end. I know it meant the world to him, and hope you can take some comfort in that.

    The pretzels look delicious and making them seems like a healthy way to work through your grief.

  17. I’m impressed you had the strength to post something. So sorry about your uncles, I too will be saying a prayer for your uncle and family.
    On another note, your pretzels look amazing and better than the one’s from the mall! 🙂

  18. Oh dear Geni, this one reminded my my grandmother, she was making something like that. Thank you so much, with my love, nia

  19. Don’t apologise, it’s only natural you’d feel down after what’s happened. I’m sorry for your loss but I know your uncle will be in a happier place. I lost my older brother when I was 14, it’s not easy. You will feel better and just focus on all your happy memories, they are precious and will stay with you always. Take care xx

  20. How yummy! I’d have to bring most of these pretzels to work because I’d just munch on them at home!

  21. Oh, Geni, I am so sorry to hear this. You are just having quite the beginning of 2012. I’m really, really hoping things look up for you very soon. What a trooper to still blog (and great of your fam to help with the cooking!) Thinking of you.

  22. So sorry to hear about your Uncle’s passing. It’s never easy, that’s for sure.

    I love soft pretzels and glad you found some comfort (and distraction) in making them. They were one of the first things I blogged about, and I’d love to make them again.

  23. Geni, I’m so sorry that your week has been so difficult. One of the things I seem to be learning as I get older is that there is no rhyme or reason as to why things in life happen to the people they happen to. Sometimes the worst things happen to the best people and all you can do is shake your head at the universe and work through it and hopefully be grateful for what you yourself were dealt. I hope next week gets better for you.

  24. I’m sorry to hear about your uncle, Geni. Baking is certainly therapeutic at times like this. And you’re right, these pretzels perfectly capture the twisted nature of life. Take care of yourself, and eat plenty of pretzels (and while you’re at it, eat a couple of pretzels for me too!)

  25. Love the plate.. and lets not get me started on those soft, ooey gooey, amazing looking, scrumptious pretzels. Yes, can you tell I am getting so hungry right now just writing this comment lol

  26. Those pretzels look so perfect

  27. Ugh. Heartbroken for you. I am so with you- sometimes I feel so overwhelming undeserving of the blessings in my life. Your post reminded me to take moments this hectic morning to be truly grateful. To stop and appreciate all of the goodness in my life. xo.

  28. So sorry for your loss. I often find that cooking something helps to take my mind off things too. The pretzels are gorgeous… I’ll be trying this recipe next time I make pretzels, because mine always seem to come out pale and bland looking!

  29. Geni, I’m so deeply sorry to hear this sad news for your family. I hope the kitchen therapy helped while barking out orders for your family 🙂 Life is very precious and times like this brings it all right up close. I’m impressed with the results of your pretzels; they look awesome and can only imagine how great they taste with the honey mustard dip.

  30. I am so sorry for your loss, Geni. Praying peace and comfort will surround you and your family. Your husband and daughter did a fantastic job with the pretzels. Nice teamwork!

  31. Hi Geni,
    Sorry to hear about your uncle.
    The pretzels look amazing.

  32. So sorry for your loss 😦 At least you got some nice, therapeutic time in the kitchen. Beautiful pretzels, and I hope your week gets better!!

  33. Geni, sorry for your loss and glad that you get to spend time with him. You never know which twists and turns life may lead you, I just hope that it is a nice ride.

  34. Dear Geni, my heart goes out to you. Bless you for being there for your uncle in his last moments–it’s not an easy thing but such a gracious gift to him, and I imagine you’ll find it so for you as well, in the long term, to know that you were able to be there for him. May you find much comfort and peace despite your loss. Love and healing to you!

  35. A dear friend of mine keeps saying..Life is llike an equation you can never figure out and the variables keep changing
    So sorry for your loss Geni

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