New York-style soft pretzels are not just for tourists who don’t know any better.
Before there were fancy food trucks in cities across the U.S., there were carts on New York City streets selling soft pretzels to natives and tourists alike.
Walking down a New York street, when I see a pretzel vendor, it’s an almost Pavlovian reaction – I must have one. Those sold as “street food” are heavily coated in coarse salt, but it’s the pretzel itself and not the topping that makes the New York version so delicious.
When I saw that my Secret Recipe Club partner for March, Cathleen of A Taste of Madness, has a soft pretzel recipe on her site, I knew immediately that was the one I’d pick for my post. If you aren’t familiar with how Secret Recipe Club works, we each get randomly assigned another blogger, whose site we check out and introduce to our own readers. Then we pick a recipe from that site to make, or to use as inspiration.
Cathleen is a math teacher. She started blogging as a way to track what she had cooked. Over time, she began using A Taste of Madness to push herself to try new recipes and to move beyond desserts to savory dishes. Cathleen calls herself a “math nerd,” but she seems anything but nerdy in her fun approach to life and cooking. A woman after my own heart.
I love Cathleen’s simple approach to food. Her Easy Mustard Chicken is a quicker version of my mom’s chicken cutlet recipe and her muffin-tin single serving dinners (mini lasagna and mini shepherd’s pie) are creative ways to make dinner easy. Of course, I would never visit a blog and miss the desserts page. On A Taste of Madness, there’s no shortage of great looking desserts. As a certified ginger freak, ginger molasses cookies attracted me, but honestly, I could probably be happy making any of her desserts – or better yet, all of them.
Anyway, back to New York-style soft pretzels. Cathleen’s recipe inspired me, but I did go pretty far afield once I got started. Before making my pretzels, I also consulted two recipes on Leite’s Culinaria (one titled fresh baked pretzels and the other described as soft pretzels), a Joy the Baker version adapted from Gourmet, and one from The Kitchn. Perhaps even more important, I read up on the whys and hows of using “baked baking soda” from one of my favorite food gurus, Harold McGee.
The ingredients are simple:
After letting the yeast activate, I added it to the flour, salt, and oil.