Posts Tagged With: Pennsylvania

116/365: National Pretzel Day

You’ll be in the mood to twist and shout today if you’re a pretzel lover. April 26 is National Pretzel Day!

It is believed that the pretzel was created by a bored monk (is there any other kind?) in the year 610, at a monastery somewhere in southern France or northern Italy. Scraps of dough were formed into strips and folded, to represent a child’s arms in prayer, with the three holes representing the Holy Trinity. The warm dough was offered as a bribe to children who memorized Bible verses and prayers. They called the doughy creation pretiola, Latin for “little reward.” As it spread through Italy the name was changed to brachiola, meaning “little arms.” Germany, probably more closely associated with pretzels than any other country, offers up an alternate version of their backstory, claiming they were invented by desperate bakers being held hostage by local Dignatories. Whatever their true source, pretzels (called bretzels there) have been an integral part of German culture for centuries. German immigrants known as Pennsylvania Dutch introduced the pretzel to America in the 19th century, and soon handmade pretzel bakeries flourished throughout the Pennsylvania countryside and beyond. In 1850, the first hard pretzel bakery opened in Lilitz, Pennsylvania; hard pretzels became a popular snack food that appears in various shapes and sizes – sticks, rods, braids, and loops. In the 20th century, street vendors in cities such as Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia popularized soft pretzels. The pretzel remains an iconic image of Philadelphia today, with residents consuming 12 times the national average each year.

I love pretzels, particularly freshly baked soft pretzels warm from the oven, sprinkled with salt and dipped in yellow mustard. I will rarely emerge from a shopping mall without eating a pretzel. Sometimes, I go to the mall just for a pretzel. Today was one of those days. Auntie Anne’s never disappoints.


Categories: Snacks | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

52/365: National Sticky Bun Day

February 21st is National Sticky Bun Day. I’d always assumed sticky buns and cinnamon rolls were the same thing, but Tara informed me that they are actually different. Both are decadent, both contain cinnamon, and both are pastries made with leavened dough that is topped with sticky, sweet icing. But the similarities end there.

I think. Sticky buns usually include nuts. But otherwise…well, I don’t see much difference myself. Let’s ask Tara!

Cinnamon rolls have a mixture of butter, cinnamon, and sugar spread onto dough that is then rolled up and cut into sections.  It’s topped with cream cheese frosting or icing.

Sticky buns are like cinnamon rolls, except they are topped with a caramel sauce and pecans.  When I was a baker at JB’s Restaurant in Idaho Falls (holy crap…was that really almost 20 years ago?!?!?) we would use a small round pan, pour in the caramel sauce, add pecans, and then place a section of the cinnamon roll on top.  After rising it would be baked and then while still warm, turned out on a plate.

Yum! Sounds delicious, babe. Thanks for the clarification.

Sticky buns originated in Germany, where they were called “schnecken” (German for “snails”). Luckily, this referred to their shape, rather than their flavor or ingredient list. The only country that can get away with actually cooking snails is France, dammit! German settlers immigrating to the United States in the 17th century brought schnecken along with them, and when they settled in and around Germantown, Pennsylvania (homesick much?), sticky buns became a popular local treat.

At Camp Walden, an all-girl’s summer camp in Maine, a longstanding tradition involving schnecken continues to this day. It is served every Sunday morning for breakfast, along with eggs, oatmeal, cereal, and yogurt. The Girl Scouts have their cookies, and Waldenites (as they refer to themselves) have their sticky buns. I’m not sure what Boy Scouts have, other than outdated moral principles.

Ooh, slam.

Tara picked us up a sticky bun from Shari’s last night, which we shared this morning for breakfast before work. It was sweet and decadent, and included a topping of pralines, which – according to my fountain-of-knowledge fiance – are caramelized pecans. Hmm. I had no idea! All I know is, the sticky bun was deliciously satisfying.


Categories: Breakfast, Pastry | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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