Not a single industry is untouched by this pandemic. And buying local has never been so important – to support small family businesses. By purchasing local ingredients from farmers and processors and eating at local establishments, you strengthen Canada’s food supply chain. You can make a real difference in your neighbours’ lives and perhaps make new friends along the way, too.
All the constant staying at home brought out the home cook side of myself, motivating me to use what is in my pantry and experiment. I found a bag of ground cinnamon, flour and organic Redpath sugar in my cupboard. With Pretzel Day coming up on April 26th, I decided to celebrate by making my own soft pretzels!
There are debates on the origin of the pretzel. Some say it is derived from the communion bread from Greece, while others argue the inventor is an Italian monk who folded the dough to mimic the arms of praying people and gave the bread to young students as a reward for memorizing their prayers.
This recipe incorporates quite a few Canadian ingredients, particularly flour. Flour is one of my pantry staples during the pandemic, mainly since it is such a versatile ingredient. Our country is one of the largest grain growers and exporters in the world, wheat being the biggest crop! Leading brands include Five Roses, Miller Pride and Robin Hood.
This twisted snack food can be enjoyed as sweet, savoury, and in a soft or hard form. I opted for sweet, and cinnamon sugar adds a good crunch, along with spice and decoration!
This ancient spice is harvested from the inner layer of bark from evergreen trees. It is not easy to extract the inner bark, as cinnamon farmers must first shave off the outer bark. Then the cinnamon is dried and forms a curly roll.
In terms of nutrition, cinnamon contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin A. It is best to store ground cinnamon in an airtight glass jar in a cool, dark, and dry place for up to six months to ensure the best quality. Cinnamon in its ground form can go rancid and lose flavour after that period, not to mention it cannot be stored in the fridge or freezer unless it is in a stick form.
Fun fact – did you know that cinnamon trees normally sprout 60 feet in height?
Serves: 8 to 12
Prep Time: 2 hrs.
Bake Time: 10 min
- 4 tsp active dry yeast
- ½ cup + 1 tsp brown sugar
- 5 cups whole wheat flour
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1¼ cup warm water
- 4 cups hot water
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil or butter
- ¼ cup mixture of cinnamon and sugar or topping of choice (e.g., kosher salt, white & black toasted sesame seeds or shredded cheese)
- 2 baking sheets
- Small bowl
- Large bowl
- Tea towel
- Hand blender or stand mixer with dough hook
- Pair of tongs
- Bread knife
Part 1 – Mise En Place
- Gather measured out ingredients and tools.
- Dissolve yeast and 1 tsp sugar in warm water. Set aside for 5 to 10 min until the mixture becomes foamy.
Part 2 – Making the Dough – Check out Fresh City Farms for organic flour!
- Combine flour, ½ cup sugar and salt in large bowl. Form a well in the center and add yeast mixture.
- Mix and form into dough either using hands or with a hand blender or stand mixer. Add 1-2 tbsp of water if dough is on the dry side. Knead until smooth for 8 minutes.
- Add 1 tbsp oil to large bowl, then coat dough with the oil along the insides of the bowl.
- Cover your dough baby with a tea towel, turn on the oven light and let rest in oven for 1 hour.
Part 3 – Assembly
- Preheat oven to 375F and grease 2 baking sheets using vegetable oil or butter.
- Dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water in large bowl.
- Check to ensure dough has doubled in size, then sprinkle flour onto clean surface and turn out the dough.
- Divide into 8 to 12 equal pieces, depending on how big you would like the pretzel to be.
- Use your hands to roll each piece into a rope, then twist into a pretzel shape.
- Use tongs to gently lift each pretzel to dip into the baking soda mixture, then place onto baking sheets. Ensure there is sufficient space between each pretzel, as it will expand in the oven.
- Sprinkle poppy seeds or topping of choice on top.
Part 4 – Baking
- Set kitchen timer to 8 minutes.
- Bake until timer goes off or until a nice browned colour is showing.
Tip: I recommend baking them on the top rack of the oven rather than the bottom rack, as my first batch from the bottom rack turned out slightly burnt.
- Serve and share – these bad boys are best enjoyed hot! For savoury flavours, feel free to use a dip, like mustard or cheese. Check out MountainOak for high quality flavoured cheese!
Farmwork to Feed Canada (F2FC) is a national volunteer not-for-profit initiative by Canadian communication professionals, students, and recent graduates in communications. F2FC collaborates with farmers, and agri-businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges to Canada’s food supply and food security, to engage Canadians, pro bono, with compelling stories about their food system and build support for Canada’s farmers, food producers, and their essential skilled workers.