Sugar & Spice Makes Everything Nice
Shopping days for a child can be compared to wondering aimlessly through a desert. Waiting for my mom to checkout at the JCPenney register felt like an eternity. I began to hate the words “department store” at a young age. Long aisles of clothes felt like waves trying to engulf me, yet enticed my mother to “just try on a few things.” Store after store, foot after foot, my tummy began to growl and my feet began to hurt. A sea of people drew me closer and closer to my mother’s side, and finally, I just held her hand and closed my eyes.
Looking back, that probably seemed quite odd to the passer-byers, but I didn’t notice. I knew what I was doing. I knew that just around the corner was heaven, well heaven to a tired 5 year old. With my eyes firmly shut, hand securely wrapped around my mother’s, I began to inhale the most wonderful smell in the world. Cinnamon and sugar filled my little sniffer. I squeezed Mom’s hand tighter and began to jump up and down shouting, “Cinnamon sugar pretzels, cinnamon sugar pretzels!” My aching feet were no longer achy, and my tummy began feeling instantly better. My patience was about to be rewarded in the form of a soft, warm, pillow-like pretzel that had face-planted into a shallow pool of cinnamon-sugary goodness. I was content. I was happy. I was the poster child for Auntie Anne’s pretzels. I left the little kiosk with one hand still snugly wrapped around my mom’s, a soft pretzel in the other, and a smile on my face.
This recipe brought me back to my go-to mall treat, and as I opened the oven door to take these little darlings out, I inhaled, closed my eyes, and magically, in that one moment, I was 5 again. These babies are that powerful.
Recipe: Makes 8 pretzels
1 cup of milk
1 package of yeast
¼ cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of butter, melted, divided
1 tablespoon of salt
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
½ cup of sugar
Heat milk just until it comes to a simmer. Add sugar. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved in the milk. The milk should be warm after the incorporation of the sugar, not hot to the touch. If the milk is too hot, let cool for a few moments before adding the yeast. Once the milk is warm, add the yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes. The yeast will puff up and become frothy. Add the yeast mixture to a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the mixture and salt. Combine on low speed. Add 2 cups of flour. Combine until almost completely incorporated. Then add the remaining 1 cup of flour. The dough will start to gather around the hook after a few minutes of mixing. Drop the dough into a medium sized bowl greased with butter. Let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once the dough has risen once, punch down and form into 8 equal pieces. Gently roll each piece into a rope about 12 inches long. Shape the dough into a “U” shape. Then bring the ends, one at a time, to the base of the “U” to form the traditional pretzel shape. Continue with the rest of the dough. Place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rise again for another 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small, shallow bowl.
Brush tops of dough with butter and sprinkle tops with the cinnamon and sugar. Bake pretzels for 18-20 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. Brush the tops with more butter and rub in cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy!
Love your memory and the recipe associated with it. Isn’t it crazy and cool how smells can take you back to a particular time and place? And I also can sympathize with the JC Penney’s shopping trips. I spent many hours there with my mom and Me-Mommy as they tried on “just one more thing”.
Yes! I love how the simple aroma of cinnamon and sugar reminds me of my childhood! And to this day I will not go into a dressing room at a department store!