The Kitchen Prep: Pink Ribbon Pretzels

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pink Ribbon Pretzels

Has this month just flown by, or what? {Michael's was setting up their Christmas aisle displays when I popped in last week... slow it down, people!}

I think October is one of those months that zooms by because it is bursting at the seams with so many things to celebrate: the changes of Fall, Oktoberfest, Halloween, and the return of Pumpkin Spice everything! 

As I've mentioned, I've had a hard time keeping up with posting about all of the October-related events and recipes, but before the month is officially over and we're onto the next holiday, there's one more important event to tend to: Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I know I keep it pretty light around here with recipes and goofiness, but I thought I'd share a little something personal. Next month, my family and I will be celebrating our own special event: The one year anniversary of the end of my Mom's treatment for breast cancer.

My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2011. It was a scary time for all of us for obvious reasons. The diagnoses of any illness brings about a lot of anxiety and uncertainty - How serious is it? How do we begin to treat it? What reaction will the person have to the treatment? Will the illness return?

Fortunately, my Mom's cancer was detected early {she has always been very good about check ups and screenings} and she underwent treatment like a champ. She had both chemotherapy and radiation, both of which she endured without most of the major side effects that we feared. And while cancer most definitely left mental and emotional scars on all of us, we were thrilled to see her be able to close that chapter upon receiving her final treatment last November.

I always suspected it before, but after her ordeal it was pretty certain that my Mom is, indeed, a superhero. ;)

Today, thanks to her doctors, prayers, and the Lord's healing, she is healthy and cancer-free.

It is alarming how many women of all ages I know personally or know of that have also fought their own battle with breast cancer. It is a disease that claims far too many precious lives, and causes heartbreak and turmoil for all involved. And while it is frustrating that there isn't much we can do about the damage cancer has already caused to so many out there, we can take away some of its power by educating ourselves and others about prevention & detection.

When my Mom was going through her trials with cancer, I cooked and baked to keep my mind off of the negative. I remember actually baking a King Cake last year as she recovered from her lumpectomy on the couch in my living room. {Leave it to me!} And as she was getting ready to finish up her treatment, I was spending hours in the kitchen passing the time with Fall baking and planning Thanksgiving goodies {though we wound up not really celebrating Thanksgiving last year... when it rains, it pours}.

Today I'm sharing a recipe that isn't meant to help us forget, but rather, that is meant to serve as a reminder - of my Mom's spunk, of all that's been overcome, of the journey that's lead us to where we are today.

It's a symbol of strength for those who are weakened by the grip of this illness; of support for those who are standing by loved ones as they fight; of community for those who are feeling alone as they wage their own wars.  It's a remembrance of those who are dearly missed; a salute to those who are giving it their all to stay here with us; a medal for those who have emerged victorious.

It's a reminder that we are united - bound together by the common bonds of love and hope.

All of those things tied up in one little pink ribbon.

Sometimes we need those reminders.

I'm glad to be baking today as a celebration instead of a distraction. And I pray that one day the pink ribbon will simply be a memory of something that no longer exists.

Pink Ribbon Pretzels
recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

For Pretzel Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons {1 packet} instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil or melted butter
Approximately 1 cup warm water

For Dipping Solution:

1 cup water, heated
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar

Topping Options:

Kosher or sea salt
3-4 tablespoons butter, melted
Pink Candy Melts

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all pretzel dough ingredients. {Add water slowly until a soft dough forms, you may not need all of it. Or, if dough looks a little dry, add a tablespoon or two more water.}

2. Knead {by hand or by machine} for 5 minutes. Allow to rest and rise in a warm, dark place for 30 minutes.

3. Prepare dipping solution: Combine 1 cup hot water with 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. {Note: It will fizz, make sure you use a large enough cup so that no bubbling over occurs.} Pour into a small {8x8} pan and let cool.

4. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper, or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

5. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Let rest for 5 minutes.

6. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope {about 16 inches}. Cut rope in half. Roll each of those ropes into about 12 inch lengths. Twist each length of dough into a ribbon shape. {If you'd like larger pretzels, make your ribbons with 16 inch rope instead.}

7. Dip each dough ribbon through water/baking soda solution, shaking off excess, and place onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt or cinnamon sugar, if desired.

8. Let rest for about 5 minutes.

9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter {give them a good bath!}. Return to oven for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven & let cool.

**At this point, the pretzels are warm & delicious, and you could certainly eat them this way.**

10. If desired, cool pretzels and drizzle with melted pink candy melts to make your pink ribbons.

Makes 8 large ribbon pretzels or 16 small ribbon pretzels.


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