Before I'll eat a pretzel.....I have to be super duper hungry and limited in snack choices.
But I love soft pretzels. The chewiness. The smell. The texture of the firm outside crust and the soft pillow-y insides. Not to mention the bits of crunchy salt that litters the tops. Soft Pretzels are among the best things you can buy at the mall. (That and Hot Dog on a Stick....one of the very few things you will ever see me eat with mustard).
And believe it or not....they are among the easiest snacks to make at home. Had I known they were so easy...I would've made them ages ago!! (They've been on my list of fun things to try for years)
The recipe I used is Alton Brown's and can be found -----> here <----- if you want to check out the original. Although I did not change the recipe, I did add a minor step.
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 110'F)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or 22 oz)
2 oz melted butter (cooled a bit, no hotter than 115'F)
Vegetable oil, for the pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (if you have it....or course sea salt)
In a large bowl, combine the lukewarm water with the sugar and salt, then sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes at which time the yeast will have started to foam a bit.
Pour in the flour and butter and mix until well combined. Pour out onto a smooth surface (I found that I did not need to dust the surface with flour as the dough did not stick. If you find that it's sticking to your surface, dust slightly but try not to use too much. You don't want too much flour added to your dough). Knead the dough until smooth. This will take 5 - 10 minutes.
This is not considered smooth...
If that's what your dough looks like....knead on baby.....you've got a bit more work to do. You want it to look like this....
See the difference? Now it's ready for the next phase. Clean the bowl you had mixed it all in, dry it and oil it. Place your nice smooth ball into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Niiiiiiiice! It's time to get rolling!
Preheat your oven to 450'F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment paper with vegetable oil.
In a large pot or stock pot, bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil.
While the water is heating.....lightly grease your counter space where you'll be working the dough. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a 24" long rope. I think that was the most challenging part for me. My ropes kept springing back. I probably should've let the 8 balls rest a few minutes before working them so much.
Anyways....now that you have the ropes made, shape them into pretzels
Or some other shape.....My youngest daughter was helping me out and is never one to remain "in the box".
Place the pretzels on your prepared baking sheets.
Now....your water should be boiling like crazy. If not.....it will be soon. Once it is, gently and carefully place one pretzel in the water and boil for 30 seconds, carefully flipping it over halfway through the process. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pretzel from the water and return to the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining pretzels, one at a time.
Take your egg wash and brush over the tops...then sprinkle with course salt.
Bake for about 12 - 14 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes before eating.
Once cooled slightly....chow down. Or, if you must....break out the mustard. Me? I liberally applied melted garlic butter. And had a
This recipe made 8. They were devoured within a few hours. They were in the oven after dinner....and by midnight....poof! They had vanished.
Let me just tell you about a personal observation....when I bit into one, fresh out of the oven...still warm and soft....it reminded me of salty soft bread. I was a bit disappointed at first. BUT....after they cooled a bit more...to room temperature, the pretzel flavor shined through and I was thrilled. And relieved. I didn't want Sir Sportsalot, the lover of all pretzels, to be unimpressed. I needn't have worried.
Now that I think of it...I just may have to make another batch today. After all, it is Father's Day. And I've been pondering the idea of a nacho version. Jalapenos chopped up and added to the dough during the mixing process and then maybe some shredded cheddar sprinkled on top just before baking. Aaaaand for that added gooeyness....a bowl of nacho cheese dip on the side. How's that for a Father's Day snack?
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Now grab a beer and a pretzel and have a great day!