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Roses with a twist
100-year-old pretzel recipe continues longtime family tradition
Ever wonder where those big soft pretzels come from? There are so many sizes, shapes, textures and flavors. But one thing is for sure — soft pretzels have become a mainstay among the many American culinary delights.
But where did they come from? Though not called "pretzel" at first, the first soft pretzels were originally made of plain bread dough.
Soft pretzels have had a place in history since 610 A.D., when a monk in southern France or northern Italy was said to have experimented with some leftover bread dough, which he twisted into the shape of a child's arms folded in prayer.
He gave the "pretiola" as a reward to children who successfully learned their prayers. Pretiola is Latin for little reward.
The pretiola found its way to Austria and Germany where it became known as the pretzel. To coin an old phrase: "The rest, as they say, is history."
So the soft pretzel has been around for a long time. And that is especially true for the Lauppe family, who have made their version of the soft pretzel for more than 100 years.
Finding my way to south Sutter County this week, I met East Nicholaus High School counselor and academic adviser Debbie Lauppe and family. With four generations of Lauppes gathered together in one kitchen, I knew it wouldn't be long before the flour began to fly, and I was in for one of those "you're not going to believe this" days.
As kids, adults and pets gathered around the kitchen counter, I knew I was in for a special treat as the annual Lauppe family spring soft pretzel-making day shifted into high gear.
Pretzel-making has become such an important tradition in this family that even the kids begged to roll out the dough or paint egg-wash on to the tops of the pretzels before heading into the oven.
According to family matriarch Kathryn Lauppe, also known as "Kay," the original recipe came from Germany more than 100 years ago and has continued as a wonderful family tradition.
Until today, only people with the last name Lauppe had privy to this century-old recipe; anyone else could not get a copy of it — not for love or money, as they say.
Debbie described the highlights of pretzel-making.
"The recipe is an all-day process. We started at 7:30 this morning with the first batch with flour and the yeast. I let it rise for about an hour and then add a pound of butter, beating it up, and then add it to the flour/yeast mixture and raise it for another 11⁄2 to two hours.
"Then you add the rose extract, eggs and sugar to the mixture. Next, you can begin to add flour, until the mixture is the consistency of cookie dough," Debbie said.
"Once the dough is ready and rolled out, I use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into thin strips. Once cut, twist dough into the shape you want and place them on a baking pan."
While reminiscing about the many years of making this recipe, Kay told a story about when her mother would make the pretzels.
"One of the harder parts of making this recipe, when I was about the same age as these children, was that the kitchen would be cold, and in order to get the dough to rise, the kitchen needed to be warm.
"To help heat the room, my mother would hang shower curtains all around the kitchen, in order to help keep in the heat in the room, so the dough could rise," Kay said.
* Rose extract is a rather exotic ingredient, and as such, it could not be found locally after several calls. However, you can go online, Google "rose extract" and find several Web sites that sell it. You can try experimenting with different flavors as well.
You will have to plan ahead to make this recipe, but it will be worth the extra effort.
I believe once you give this recipe a try, you will quickly find a place alongside your other family favorites — and hopefully start a new family tradition of your own.
• Debbie Lauppe's Family Spring Rose Pretzels
3 tablespoons rose extract *
2 packs yeast
1⁄2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup evaporated milk
8 to 10 cups flour, divided use
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound butter
5 whole eggs, divided use
6 egg yolks
4 cups sugar
Putting it together
Dissolve yeast in warm water; stir in 1 teaspoon sugar.
Heat milk and evaporated milk until warm.
Place 3 cups of flour in large bowl.
Add yeast, milk mixture and salt. Stir to make a thin batter.
Let rise for approximately one hour in a warm place until bubbly and fluffy.
Cream 1 pound butter and beat into batter.
Allow batter to rise again for approximately one to two hours.
Beat together 4 whole eggs and 6 yolks.
Add 4 cups sugar and beat.
Add to raised batter and mix with wooden spoon.
Add 3 tablespoon rose extract * and mix.
Add more flour until batter has a texture like cookie dough and can be handled easily by hand.
Form into several balls and roll each out separately on floured surface in a rectangle shape.
Cut into 1⁄2-inch strips, mold into pretzel shapes and place on a greased cookie sheet.
Beat 1 whole egg and use to brush the top of each pretzel and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool and serve, or store in containers.
• Cook's note: Debbie has used several ways to cut the dough into 1⁄2-inch strips, but she has found that a pizza cutter works very well and saves a lot of time.
There will be free full-color recipe cards of Debbie Lauppe's Family Spring Rose Pretzels in the lobbies of the Yuba City and Marysville Appeal-Democrat offices today.
If you or someone you know has a favorite recipe and would be willing to share it, give Michael Reed a call at 749-4720 or e-mail to email@example.com. He would love to come to your kitchen and meet you.
Until then, hope to see you in your neighbor's kitchen.