Cookin' With Leo
Soft Dough, Salty, Buttery,
Ball Park Pretzels
Way back when, whenever, Mom and Grandma ran a concession stand at old Sportsman’s Park, the Saint Louis Browns’ Ball Park, up on North Grand Avenue. That was in the ‘20s, and I was just a little kid, who sometimes got taken there by mom to keep an eye on me. Well she sorta’ watched me so I wouldn’t drink and eat up all the profits, especially the Root Beer and the Soft Pretzels. Grandma could usually bake them on the spot, if business was good, or most of the time she brought a supply from home and warmed them at the stand. Now I do not know who had the recipe first, but at the time there was a Pretzel Bakery in South Saint Louis, known as Gus’s Pretzel Shop. You could go there and buy any amount of them, and they also had a bunch of street peddlers who came every day and brought supplies of them to sell on the street corners, or some even had a route, mostly taverns, where they always had customers. Needless to say these soft dough tasty treats went like hot cakes, so to speak, regardless of if they were Gus’s or Grandma’s.
Well, I ain’t gonna’ say which was better but let’s just say many years later when I had a business in Saint Louis, at least two or three times a week one of Gus’s peddlers came by the office to sell bags of them. In those days a bag of 5 soft stick pretzels was a quarter, or a bag of 4 twisted pretzels was a quarter. Lord knows what they are now, but even at a buck a bag they are worth it. The last I know Gus’s is still turning out pretzels. However Grandma is gone and the only thing I have is some old hand written recipe book pages left over from her times, way back when.
So, here is a good time to make a batch for all your playoff buddies what are comin’ to help you watch America’s Team get their butts beat as usual. And of course if you are making all them salty pretzels you better have some cold Bud or Mich to wash them down. Me, well since I am in Texas, I can please the Cowboy fans here, with that cheap, non-Union made CKA, Colorado Kool Aid, that is. But, for me an’ my Union Yank Pals what got raised on Bud and Mich, an’ sometimes even that stuff from Milwaukee, wherever, I always have a good supply of that South Saint Louis brew. Beats the hell out of CKA.
So, let’s make some Pretzels what need to be washed down with a bottle of good beer.
Here is what you need:
- 1 cake of yeast or the dry powdered equivalent
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ cups warm skim milk (about 110 ° F)
5 cups all purpose flour
½ cup sugar.
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup baking soda
4 cups Hot water
¼ cup kosher salt for topping.
OK let’s get to work
In a mixing bowl combine the yeast, the spoon of sugar and the warm milk, let it set for about 10 minutes or so until it bubbles.
Now you can begin to add the flour, hold back about the last cup of it, the half cup of sugar, the table salt and the butter.
Mix that well and work into a soft dough, if too ‘wet’ add the last cup of flour slowly as you knead it into a soft smooth ball. Add enough flour so that it is not sticky.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it and turn to coat the oil all around. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in warm area to let it raise until double in size, at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 450°.
In a pan dissolve the baking soda and hot water.
When the dough has risen turn dough out onto a floured flat surface or board, divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel.
When the dough is all shaped dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet.
Sprinkle with the kosher salt. You can also sprinkle with sesame seed as an alternate topping.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until browned
Now you can serve ‘em warm with a cold Bud or Mich.
An’ Ya’ll Enjoy The Game, Ya’hea!