Monday, May 17, 2010

Soft Pretzels


The closest I'd ever been to homemade soft pretzels prior to last week was buying super pretzels in the frozen food aisle. Not bad. Not particularly tasty. Certainly not in line with my goal to eat less preprepared and processed food. These however. Very tasty. Very good. Very much not bought in the frozen aisle.

That photo above? That's the only photo I managed to get of the final product because we ate them before I could get another. Ooops.

The recipe I used is from Joy the Baker. It takes a bit of patience and some top notch playdough skills, but it's not difficult.

Makes: 8 pretzels

1 tbsp sugar
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
1 heaping tbsp of baking soda
1 egg
sea salt

STIR together sugar, yeast, and luckwarm water
LET STAND until foamy (about 5 min, if it doesn't foam, discard)

This is what mine looked like:

Foaming Yeast

MIX together flour and table salt in a stand mixer*
ADD yeast mixture
USE dough hook attachment to knead dough until it is a smooth, sticky dough

This is what you are looking for:

Pretzel Dough

REMOVE bowl from mixer
COVER with plastic wrap
PLACE in a warm, draft free place (like the microwave) and let rise until doubled in bulk

TURN dough out onto a clean, floured worksurface
CUT into 8 equal pieces
LIGHTLY FLOUR your hands
ROLL a piece of dough into a rope 18"-24" long**
TWIST into pretzel shape
PLACE on parchment paper lined baking sheet
REPEAT for 7 remaining pieces of dough

LET pretzels rise for 20 minutes
PREHEAT oven to 425F
BRING a 6 quart pot of water to a boil

ADD baking soda to boiling water
USE both hands to gently add 3 pretzels, one at a time, to the boiling water
LET BOIL for 3 minutes, turning once with tongs

They will look weird. It's okay:


REMOVE to plate to cool
REPEAT with remaining 5 pretzels, in two batches.

RETURN pretzels to parchment paper lined baking sheet
BEAT egg in a small bowl
BRUSH egg onto pretzels
SPRINKLE with sea salt to taste

BAKE until golden brown and lightly crusted

Baked and Browned


My Thoughts
1. These were amazingly good. A cheddar cheese dip would push them over the top. It's on my list of things to dig up.

2. There is very little difference between making a single or double or triple batch of these, so I think they are a great candidate for freezing and baking later for an easy snack. I'm going to have to experiment, but I would either freeze them after the boiling, or simply bake them part way and then finish the baking later.

3. Joy says the dough will rise in ~45 minutes. I had to leave mine overnight. Do a trial run in advance if you are planning on doing these on a deadline.

4. I could not get my dough rolled out thinly enough to get 24" ropes--it kept retracting! So I gave up and had fat little pretzels. Next time, I may cut the dough into 10 pieces, roll out the ropes, and then just cut them to create pretzel sticks. Not as iconic, but hopefully not quite so thick!

5. These are pretty much my ideal breakfast food.

*If you don't have a stand mixer, stir ingredients together with a spoon, then turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand.
**The dough will retract, just get the ropes as long and as thin as you can.

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