Last year (2015) I let go of some of this fear and this year (2016) I hope to continue to move further and further away from this place.

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On Fear and Sesame Salt Pretzel Twists

Sesame Salt Pretzels

I’ve been thinking about fear. Where it comes from and how to let it go. You see, I spend and have spent a lot of time being afraid.

Sesame Salt Pretzels

I was afraid to have a child, lest it should alter the course of my life indefinitely (it did). I’ve been afraid to leave jobs that I’ve hated because being without a job was terrifying and not knowing what’s next was equally so. I’ve been afraid of days or weeks spent living without routine. Nothing is scarier to me than a wide open calendar. I have been equally afraid of being needed and not being needed. I’ve been scared to spend money that I have and money I don’t have. I have been afraid of change — so much so that I have lived in the same small two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco since I graduated from college; I’m nearly 33!

Sesame Salt Pretzels

There is comfort in fear. And I haven’t known a life without it.

Sesame Salt Pretzels

Sesame Salt Pretzels

But it is this debilitating, unfounded fear that keeps us attached to places we have outgrown, relationships that anchor us down, careers that make us doubt ourselves, and paths we want to careen off of.

Sesame Salt Pretzels

This fear makes us second guess ourselves and what we can accomplish. Last year (2015) I let go of some of this fear and this year (2016) I hope to continue to move further and further away from this place. I want to lock my fear up in a closet and throw away the keys. I want to float in an ocean above this fear, which lurks in the dark bottom. I want to crumple the fear like a piece of paper and watch it become smaller and smaller. I want to breathe out the fear with every downward dog. I want to knead the fear out with my knuckles.

Sesame Salt Pretzels

I’ve already started to. And it feels so damn good.

Sesame Salt Pretzel Twists
Adapted from Sunday Suppers

For the pretzel dough:
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon of honey
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour

For the boil:
1/3 cup of baking soda
1 tablespoon of kosher salt

For the finish:
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons of milk
sesame seeds and French Gray sea salt, for sprinkling

1. Add the milk to a small pot and heat over medium until it just begins to bubble around the edges. Pour in the yeast and honey, then transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
2. Combine the salt and flours together in a medium bowl and pour half of it into the milk mixture. Beat slowly to incorporate before pouring in the rest. Mix for about five minutes, then switch to a dough hook and mix on low-medium for another ten minutes (the dough should be stretchy and tacky).
3. Grease a large bowl with oil or an oil spray, then place your ball of dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 1 1/2 hours (or until it is doubled in size).
4. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Generously sprinkle a workspace with flour and place your dough on top of it. Use a pastry cutter to cut the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a thin log and twist each one over itself, tucking the ends under (you can also check out a pretzel-shaping tutorial if you choose to shape your dough into a traditional pretzel shape).
6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the baking soda and salt. Once the water is boiling, dial down the heat to a simmer. Add two pretzel twists in at a time, cooking each for about 20 seconds before flipping and cooking for another 20 seconds. Transfer pretzels to a wire rack to dry while you prepare the rest.
7. In a small bowl, combine the egg and two tablespoons of milk. Use a fork to gently beat the mixture together. Use a silicone brush to brush the tops of the pretzels with the glaze then sprinkle with sesame seeds and sea salt.
8. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the pretzels for about 8-10 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Cool the pretzels on a wire rack and eat warm, plain or with mustard.

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • ml

    brillant post. thanks for having the courage to share. also, do you think they would be roughly the same made with spelt flour (white and whole wheat accordingly)?

  • 2016 is a year for being brave. May it be your bravest year yet. Love you!

  • Thank you! You know, I am always experimenting with different flours — sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The original recipe used all-purpose flour but I decided to throw in whole wheat. I’ve never made yeasted breads with spelt flour so I can’t say, but I would experiment 🙂

  • Thanks my dear. Cheers to 2016 from the West Coast! xoxo

  • Beautiful post, Kasey! You are such a hero with that overly full plate these days. I keep thinking of you and your 3 babes. I hope 2016 is a fantastic, mostly-fear-free, year for you. Go lady go!
    xoxoxxo

  • Thank you so much, Erin! I hope so, too 🙂 And same to you! xo

  • southernsouffle

    Love this post, Kasey! Fear can cripple us from living if we let it. Here’s hoping for a fearless 2016 for you, with lots of Sesame Salt Pretzels. 🙂

  • Thanks so much, Erika! Happy 2016 to you!

  • These pretzels look so yummy. I want to reach out and grab one. Good for you on identifying your fears and trying to move past them. I can totally relate to you. I live a lot of my life in fear. I am hoping to be braver in 2016 as well. As they say, change can’t happen in your comfort zone.

  • Thanks, Natasha! Let’s be brave together 🙂

  • Mike Diago

    These will be my first experiment with making and baking dough at home. I hope mine end up looking as good as these. Perhaps this weekend I’ll give it a stab. Thanks for posting this!

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