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February 19th, 2008

Three things!

1) Okay, 0., She Wants Revenge = yes. It's like the Eighties rose up from the grave and came looking for braiiiiiiiiiins. The good part of the Eighties. I can't decide if it's more Joy Division/Bauhaus or Psychedelic Furs, but it's evil earworm city.

2) 140,664 People

3) I like kneading dough. The pretzels came out awesome, though next time I'm going to use much less sugar than the recipe calls for--they are a little too sweet, and the sugar's killed much of the sourdough flavor. I didn't use as much flour as the recipe calls for, which is part of it, but then I tend to measure flour into dough by the does-it-feel-right technique rather than by ounces and cups.

When I did the boiling, I used water with baking soda and salt in it, to help the crust get chewy. I am pretty sure this recipe would also make beautiful bagels, because these are the just-right kind of chewy pretzels that are remarkably like the just-right kind of chewy bagels. Next time, I might let it rise longer in the fridge, to develop more lactic acid, and I might try making them part-whole-wheat. Maybe the King Arthur white whole wheat flour, because I don't want to mess up the texture.

Dough is really tactile stuff. You have to poke at it until it feels right. Most people don't work it long enough, and wind up with bread without much texture, which is sad.

I've mentioned the baby's-bottom/woman's breast test before (if it feels like living flesh, it's approaching the right consistency, and the surface texture should be similar--a little bit tacky, but mostly smooth and pleasant to touch, and it should have sucked up all the stray bits of dough and flour from the kneading surface with the irresistible gravitational attraction of a black hole. Another good test is the windowpane test. This is how you tell if the gluten is adequately developed. You pinch off a piece of dough, roll it into a ball, and gently stretch it between your fingers. If you can stretch it fine enough that the center of the piece thins to a translucent membrane, and you can see light and shadow through it, it's done.

Dough is also therapy. You can pound a lot of frustrations into a pile of flour and salt and yeast and water, and that you come out on the other end with bread is kind of wonderful. And also probably kind of metaphorical.

And now I have to go heat my pretzels up, so I can feed my friends. And hey, Dad's arm is out of the sling. I wonder if he will accept a pretzel in congratulations.