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Salty Cinema Bites: The Crunchy Pretzel Chronicles



When I was growing up in Hungary, long before chips and popcorn became the reigning snack kings in movie theatres, a delightful duo stole the show: the pogácsa and the perec. Hopefully, you have read about a pogácsa already. If not, please try them, as they are delicious. More pogácsa recipes will be featured, as Mom had many of those in her recipe book.





These golden-brown delights held a special place in the hearts of moviegoers, offering a satisfying crunch and a touch of savory goodness to accompany the silver screen magic. While pogácsa, a Hungarian pastry, shared the limelight with its pretzel counterpart, it was the pretzel that genuinely captured the imaginations of cinema enthusiasts. Twisted into a classic knot and dotted with salt paste, the pretzel's satisfyingly crisp exterior and soft, chewy interior made it the go-to snack for indulging in cinematic adventures. Other fond memories come from having perec in the Zoo, or in the Vidámpark (amusement park).



For quite some time, my mother had held onto this cherished recipe she received from her colleague, Maca, a nickname for Maria, the Hungarian rendition of Mary. Maca's mother was an exceptional home-baker, especially for family gatherings and company potluck events. Maca would request her mother's expertise and bring delightful creations on such occasions. Mom's recipe book contains numerous other culinary treasures shared by Maca. I recall countless baking sessions where we diligently prepared tray after tray of Perec for our family gatherings. Mom and I even pulled an all-nighter to ensure enough pretzels for everyone when we gathered to celebrate my nephew's baptism.




Presented here is yet another recipe that relies on the baker's intuition and experience regarding precise directions. The recipe commences by listing the required ingredients and their mixing instructions, but then comes the daunting moment: the infamous line of "incorporating a good quantity of lukewarm water to achieve a nokedli dough." This line really means mixing with enough water to create a soft, sticky dough that is easily bendable but thick in consistency. But what is 'enough water'..


Explore the photo gallery to find inspiration and follow the step-by-step process.







I thought I would publish the recipe here in English for those who don't read cursive or Hungarian or need the additional instructions the recipe description lacks.


INGREDIENTS

600 gr unbleached all-purpose flour divided

150 gr lard (many older Hungarian recipes use fat but can substitute it with margarine)

2 tsp dried yeast

2 tsp sugar

One egg

~1 cup of lukewarm water


Egg wash:

One egg


Salt paste:

2 tbsp salt

3 tbsp flour

water


DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix 300gr of flour in a bowl with sugar and the yeast. Add enough lukewarm water to make a thick, sticky dough. Place the bowl in a warm place and let it rise until it doubles.

  2. Meanwhile, measure 300gr of flour into another large bowl. Then using a pastry blender cut the lard (or margarine) into the flour. Continue cutting until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Let it rest until the other dough rises.

  3. After the first dough doubles, mix the two doughs and knead them together until smooth ball forms. Divide that into four smaller balls, cover, and set aside to rise until they double.

  4. Take one ball and divide it into 16 pieces.

  5. Roll each piece into a long rope-like shape. Take the ropes, braid them into a pretzel, and place them on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with all pieces, then move to the next ball. (I experimented with dividing the first two dough balls into 16 pieces, then the second two into 8 pieces, yielding to larger pretzels)

  6. Let the pretzels rise in the trays for twenty minutes.

  7. Preheat oven to 375F.

  8. Whisk the egg in a small bowl.

  9. After 20 minutes of rising, brush the pretzels with egg wash.

  10. Place the pretzels in the oven and bake to a light golden hue.

  11. Meanwhile, prepare the Salt paste: In a small bowl, combine the salt and the flour. Add hot water to make a paste (that has sour cream consistency) that can be drizzled on the pretzels.

  12. Remove the pretzels from the oven when they are slightly underbaked and sprinkle the pretzels with the salt wash.

  13. Place back in the oven and bake for 4-6 more minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown.


Let me know how it worked! Scroll through the pictures or reach out if you have any questions. Jó étvágyat!





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