Happy feast day to wives and mothers!
Today we celebrate a woman who suffered a very difficult marriage with her Pagan husband Patricius who was prone to unfaithfulness and violence towards her and he refused to let their three children be baptized. As the well known story goes, she also had a very painful relationship with her son, St. Augustine, who fell into worldly and sinful ways when she desperately wanted him to become Catholic. She prayed unceasingly for both of these men even when there seemed to be no hope of conversion for either of them and persevered through her heartache until both her husband and son became Catholic.
I love this quote from Franciscan Media, as if St. Monica isn't relatable enough this really showcases it. "The circumstances of St. Monica's life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter in law, and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of those temptations."
To celebrate her feast day I made these delicious homemade pretzels. The pretzels are symbolic, folded like her arms were in prayer and the sprinkled salt reminds us of the many tears she cried. If you don't make them for her own feast day you could certainly make them for St. Augustine's which is tomorrow!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rise Time: 1 hour
Bake Time 12-14 minutes
Yields: 8 Pretzels
Assemble the Team!
For the Dough
1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2¼ teaspoons active dry or instant yeast (1 packet)
4½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted melted butter
Coarse salt for sprinkling before baking
For the Baking Soda Water Bath
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
For the Egg Wash
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
After slightly warming 1 1/2 cups water pour it into a glass mixing bowl.
Pour 1 tbsp light brown sugar into the warm water.
Sprinkle in 2 tsp kosher salt and whisk it around until it is completely dissolved.
Should look like this after about 2-3 minutes of whisking.
Now pour out one packet of yeast, don't worry about whisking it in!
Let the yeast sit on the top of the mixture for about 5 minutes until it begins to foam. While you are waiting you can go ahead and melt 4 tbsps of butter.
Before 5 minute picture below.
After 5 minute picture below. Nice and foamy!
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer and add the melted butter.
Pour in 4 1/2 cups flour, I started by pouring in about half before running the mixer and the other half with it on low.
Once the mixture is more combined increase the speed to medium until the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
I then lightly floured the counter and my hands so that I could knead it for 5-10 minutes. You can knead it in the stand mixer but my personal preference is to do this by hand. The dough should now be smooth but still a little tacky.
Grab a clean and well oiled bowl for the dough to rise in.
Put the dough in, roll it around so that the dough is coated on all sides, and cover the bowl with cling wrap. Let it rise for about 45 minutes to an hour, while waiting I spent some time praying and journaling. What are you doing to do? 😊
Look at this monster, it should be at least doubled in size.
Before you get started on shaping your pretzels, get the baking soda water bath ready. This is a combination of 10 cups water and 2/3 cup baking soda, bring this to a boil.
While we are waiting for that to boil get out two baking sheets and line them with either parchment paper or baking mats. Punch down the air from your dough and place it on the counter. You are going to divide it into 8 pieces but if you want smaller pretzels you could make about 12.
After dividing the 8 pieces you are going to roll each one out into roughly 24 inch long ropes, then shape it into a "U".
To make the pretzel shape, take the ends and cross them at the top.
Give them one more twist and then pull that down the center and pinch the ends to keep them in place.
When they are shaped and look like this place them on the baking sheets.
Put the pretzels into the boiling water two at a time for about 30 seconds.
Take them out with a spatula and place them back on the baking mat twist side up!
Now for the egg wash! Mix together one tbsp water and one egg yolk. Brush the top of each pretzel so they have a nice shine.
Sprinkle them with course salt and put them in the oven for about 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
Let them cool for about 5 minutes before serving. In the meantime get out your favorite dips and serve warm, yum!
PRAYER TO ST. MONICA
Exemplary Mother of the Great Augustine, you perseveringly pursued your wayward son, not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven. Intercede for all mothers in our day so that they may learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray. Amen.
Did you make this recipe? If so I would love to see it, drop a picture in the comment or send it to me on social media Facebook @HisGirlSunday.
For more liturgical living resources check out the blog section of my website or follow me on Facebook to see what Catholic things I am doing to celebrate feast days.