Pretzel Bread

Photo pending! I didn’t have a chance to snap one as I was whisking these out the door…

In Season 2 of Fargo, the Gerhardt’s kitchen is fascinating to me. It’s colored in icy, impersonal tones (I very much enjoy Tom and Lorenzo’s color theories) yet the racks of freshly baked bread are generally warm and inviting. The way they are used in the story is two-sided two, the offering of bread is at once maternal and threatening.

These loaves are drama-fraught, but pretty tasty, so if you’re feeling both violent and cozy this is a good recipe for you.

Pretzel Bread

Adapted from With Salt and Wit

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat milk until comfortably warm to touch (not hot, will kill yeast). Stir in butter, sugar, and yeast and let it proof for 10 minutes or so.

In a large bowl, measure out 2 1/2 cups flour and add salt. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl and mix until it starts to form a dough. Add more flour little by little until it comes together in a ball, then pour out onto a floured counter and knead for about 10 minutes, adding a little flour as necessary if it gets too sticky to handle. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, punch down the dough, knead slightly and form into two equal sized balls.

Preheat oven to 400° Bring water and baking soda to a boil. One at a time, boil each of the balls for two minutes each side, and remove to an oiled baking sheet.

Brush with egg and slice crossways on the top of each loaf. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° to continue baking for another 10-12 minutes until loaves are evenly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 27: Fargo

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Holidazzle Eggs

Dale: OK, for those who’ve just joined us, Katie is gonna show us how to make Holidazzle eggs at home. Now, Katie, I gotta admit.
Katie: What?
Dale: I was a little bit surprised when I first picked this up. This is an empty egg.
Katie: That’s right, Dale.
Dale: There was an egg in here, right?
Katie: Yeah.
Dale: OK, well, how do you…You don’t have an empty chicken somewhere that lays empty eggs?

–”FARGO”, 1996 film by Joel & Ethan Cohen

Right before as well as during the wife-kidnapping scene in the “Fargo” film, the TV is turned to a morning show and the hosts are talking about Holidazzle Eggs. One co-host describes them as “empty eggs” and makes a silly joke about empty chickens. The Holidazzle celebration is a real event in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, but I wasn’t able to find any information specifically linking the craft of blowing out eggs, or “empty eggs” as they said, to the occasion. As a child my mom, sister, and I would make these eggs for Easter, but, because they can be strung up like ornaments, they would be great for Christmas too.

Note: The above quote is from a transcript of the film, with the dialogue just as I remember it, but a script I found for the film which perhaps is from before the film was completed, has the host saying “So I separate the – how the heck do I get the egg out of the shell without breaking it?” and the hostess says “You just prick a little hole in the end and blow!”. So there you have a little more insight into what they’re talking about.

Holidazzle Eggs (AKA Empty Eggs)

  • 1 Raw Egg, room temperature (or however many eggs you’d like to make)
  • An Awl or Thumbtack or Pin
  • Ribbon or Floss
  • Craft Paint or Glitter Glue (or glitter + glue)

Shake the egg vigorously to break up the yolk & white inside. Over a bowl, carefully puncture one end of the egg with the pin or awl, creating a hole 1 – 2 mm in diameter. Flip the egg over & repeat this to the other end.

Gather your breath & blow hard into one end to expel the broken up yolk & white out of the opposite end & into the bowl, pulling any clump of white or membrane out at needed. Once you’ve gotten all of the innards out that you can, put some hot water into a separate bowl & place the egg into the water, bottom opening down, & suck in just enough to get some of the water into the shell. Lift the egg, close off the holes with your fingers, & shake vigorously to clean out the inside. Blow the water out into the sink & repeat until the inside is clean. Sit the egg aside over night to dry. Fry up the blown-out egg yolk & white to make scrambled eggs ’cause “you gotta eat a breakfast”.

Once the egg is dry, thread a needle with floss or thin ribbon & pull it through the egg to make it hangable. Paint the egg shell however you’d like, or use glue & glitter to make it dazzle!

Listen to the episode! Episode 28: Fargo

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