How to Make Soft Pretzels
I’m feelin’ the stress. I have a zit on my face I’m trying to pass off as a Cindy Crawford mole. I’m packing up my apartment again. Who stole all my spoons? All I’ve eaten is two burritos and a jar of pickles in the past three days. I’d like for someone to hold my hand and take me out to dinner. I think I might be whining. That’s not attractive.
Wednesday, I just need one thing from you. Carbs. I’m not messing around, Wednesday. I want bread products and beer and candy bars… that’s all I want from you. Oh! Wait… doughnuts too please. And string cheese.
Be a pal, Wednesday. Just this once.
Jill and I… we bake together. It’s called Bake Out. Duh. This time around we practice our carb intake by making pretzels. Have you ever made pretzels? There’s yeasting and rolling. There’s boiling and brushing and baking.
You might want to get in on this action.
Flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water. That’s all you need to make pretzels.
Oh! Time. You’ll need some time too.
Look at those foamy, frothy yeast bubbles. It’s alive. It’s ready for flour.
Ready for kneading.
We will turn these into twisted baked dough dipped in mustard. It’s just a matter of time.
All that dough for eight giant pretzels. I’m pretty sure I could eat eight pretzels on my own.
The pretzel twisting always gets complicated in my brain. I usually settle for funny looking pretzels.
These are my tongs. They come in really handy for boiling and flipping hot dough.
heh… hot dough.
I don’t know why hot dough is still funny to me… but it is.
My pretzels get loaded with goodness before being slapped in the oven.
This would be the goodness.
And the after baking/dipping goodness.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
from Gourmet, March 2004
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pretzel salt or grill seasoning
1 heaping Tablespoon baking soda (add it to the boiling water just before throwing in the pretzel dough!)
Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 110°F) in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes. (Dough needs to be somewhat sticky to facilitate rolling and forming into pretzels).
Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 8 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 24 inches long. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour. Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (Dough will retract as you form the pretzel.)
Transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form 7 more pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.
Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add heaping tablespoon of baking soda. The baking soda will help the pretzels brown.
Using both hands, carefully add 2 (maybe 3) pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes. Transfer parboiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining 5 pretzels in 2 batches.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet. Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.
• Dough can be mixed and kneaded in a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook.
• Pretzels are best the day they are made. (When they are kept overnight, salt may dissolve.)