15 November 2013

Daring Bakers, Tribute To Lis: Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

La Mia Cucina's Lis Cifelli, Daring Bakers and Daring Kitchen co-founder died  of a heart attack earlier this week.  She was 46.

Many things flicked through my mind when my BlackBerry binged about a dozen times over the course of a few minutes.  That only happens when something's very wrong…but when I saw a distribution list of a couple dozen foodbloggers, including old-school names, my heart stopped.  We lost one of our own.

Later that  evening a few of us who were part of foodblogging's salad days were in a twitter chat about those old days, especially the Daring Bakers' early days.

The Daring Bakers started off in 2006 as two online friends--Lis and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice--daring one another to try the same recipe and post their results.  It looked like fun and fit in well with foodblogging's early days which were marked by fun, encouragement and a prevailing feeling of "we're all in it together."  Many of my foodblogging friends were in the first groups and I was christened a DB within seven months of the Lis and Ivonne's inaugural challenge.

As the group grew, so did our collective skill, knowledge and well as our individual friendships.  Apart from encouraging me to bake my first macarons and try my hand at pasta making, I also found my go-to cheesecake recipe and made some good friends.  In 2009 I even hosted a the Bakewell Tart challenge--ably assisted by my dear Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar.

Time and energy are limited, and I (like several early members) simply faded out of the challenges so we could concentrate on what we wanted our lives and blogs to become  and left the DBs to the next generation who continue to to challenge each other with new adventures (yes, I did peek at this month's challenge recipe: it looks like an amazing one).

So when that FB chat turned to how we could memorialise Lis and all she did to contribute to foodblogging's community building, we decided to brush off our DB skills and return to a challenge recipe, prepare it and post it in her honour.  But which one to choose? If I were to do one that makes me smile every time, it would be my friend Shuna Fish Lydon's Caramel Cake

Given what Lis and Ivonne did for foodblogging, and the memories Lis' passing brought me, I thought it was appropriate to post the very first Daring Bakers' challenge: Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels.

I'll admit to not really being a pretzel-eater, simply because My Dear Little Cardamummy never kept them in the house (truthfully, she thought they were dog food and was repulsed by the idea that anyone would eat them).  But these aren't those hard, dry twigs.  These are soft, bready and buttery….and really, really easy to make.

But not so easy that I couldn't make a couple of oopsies.  Apart from missing the 15-minute rise before baking, after I pulled them out of the oven I realised I used bread flour instead of AP.  Quite honestly--the oversights weren't showstoppers and I really don't think the pretzels suffered from my inattentiveness.

The recipe called for an optional salt sprinkle, which I did, but I also decided to take a couple of liberties with some of the breaded knots and made rosemary-black pepper-Parmesan and  cinnamon-sugar toppings,  and made little sesame seed-coated twisted pretzel sticks.

Recipe: Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels
DB Challenge Recipe: Cream Puffs In Venice: Perfect Pretzels
Original Recipe:  King Arthur Flour: Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels


I'm a quill for hire!


kellypea said...

This is such a lovely tribute, Jasmine. I caught the tail end of your tweets the other night. They reminded me of something else that has changed so much. We actually used to converse in 140 characters there instead of just posting links to the next post. Ah well. Your Bakewell Tart was one of my favorite challenges. It was such a lovely dessert. Miss the old community so much!

Ivonne said...

What a lovely post. Sometimes I can barely remember back to those days. It's sad but all the more reason for us to stay in touch and stay strong.

Andrea Meyers said...

You are right, it was so much fun to find everyone's blogs on post days. I always enjoyed that part.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The blogging community has lost a very special lady. We all learned so much with a sense of style, humility and humour, always laughter and fun. We may no longer be Daring Bakers but we are still those fledgling bloggers in spirit who rose to every challenge. Thank you Lis. This was a lovely tribute. Good for you for making these pretzels. They are now on my bucket list.

Deeba PAB said...

So evocative, so beautiful Jasmine. Oh, the years that have passed. I often remember the cardamom addict...each time I reach out for cardamom {and that is often!!}. Much love!

Joanne T Ferguson said...

G'day and what a lovely tribute to Liz, true!
It is bittersweet as am enjoying reading all the tributes, share one, but feel sad and glad at the same time too!
Cheers! Joanne
Great pretzels!