Bad news, ladies — we’re all getting fat. According to a study done in England last year, the average woman’s waist size was 28 inches in the 1950s, but in the last 60 years, it swelled six inches to an average of 34. Part of that is because we’re supposedly consuming 350 more calories per day, but it sounds like the biggest factor is actually all the housework we ladies used to do. Apparently, we used to burn a thousand calories a day on housework. A thousand!
I honestly can’t comprehend that. I mean, their houses must have been clean. Like, they probably dusted the entire bookshelf, and not just the edges that stick out from under the books. And I suppose they didn’t have dustbusters or easy-to-use vacuums or all that other stuff we’ve got now. But still — how can that be an extra thousand calories? And how could we possibly know that now, anyway?
This whole conundrum had been bothering me for a few weeks, but I think I may have gotten a little closer to figuring it out the night I made these homemade salted pretzel rolls. You know what else most ladies didn’t have back in the ’50s? Kitchenaid stand mixers. In addition to doing a ton more cooking than we do these days, they had to knead dough by hand. And coincidentally, due to my lack of stand mixer, so do I (no comment on that 28-inch waist thing). I can attest that it burns some calories.
…though I still think I’d have to bake about 20 loaves of bread a day to even come close to that thousand-calorie threshold. Which still sounds wayyyy better than a 10-mile run.
SALTED PRETZEL ROLLS (recipe from Bobby Flay, as seen on Bake Your Day)
1 and 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 tsp)
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 and 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup baking soda
non-stick or olive oil spray
Yield: 8 rolls
1. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and spray liberally with non-stick or olive oil spray.
2. Combine warm water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined (or in a large bowl with a trusty spoon). Let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Add kosher salt and flour and mix on low speed (or stir) until combined. Increase speed to medium and continue kneading until dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes (or dive in with your hands). If dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove dough from bowl, place on flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
4. Coat bowl with non-stick or olive oil spray, add dough and turn to coat with oil. Cover with clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 425. Bring large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add baking soda.
6. Remove dough from bowl and place on flat surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces and roll each into an even ball, about 3 inches wide. Place each piece on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
7. Boil rolls in the water/baking soda for 30 seconds each, moving around and splashing up onto the tops of the rolls (I did my rolls two at a time but you could probably do them four at a time). Remove from solution and place back on baking sheets. Sprinkle tops liberally with kosher salt and then cut an “x” into the top of each roll. Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching closely at the end so that they reach the desired brown color, but don’t burn.
These turned out perfectly. I was nervous when I pulled the rolls out of the boiling water, because they didn’t seem to look any different, but they still got that nice brown, pretzel-y crust. If you want to make these into pretzel bites instead of rolls, roll the dough out into two ropes about 20 inches long and and cut the ropes into 1-inch pieces. Boil and bake as directed, checking them after about 8 minutes to gauge done-ness.
We had these with some yummy turkey burgers — check back for the recipe soon!