Thursday, March 5, 2009

Soft Pretzels

These are my new favorite thing to make. I know this because I made them twice in one week. And I have every intention of making them again this weekend. They are that good.

If you are from a city that has good soft pretzels, you probably don't need to know how to make them at home. But if you grew up in one of these soft-pretzel-topias, then moved away, then this recipe is for you. These will satisfy your soft pretzel needs.

The first batch I made, I ended up eating 3/4 of the pretzels myself (I let Nic have a little bit) in three days. If you're wondering, that is about 2 large pretzels a day, on average. What I'm saying is, if you really love soft pretzels, then these are not something you want to make when you're on a diet.

I've made these pretzels two ways now. The first time I made them the suggested way, by dividing the dough in 8 pieces, and making 8 large, doughy pretzels. They were amazing. The second time I was making the pretzels for a get-together, and I thought something a little smaller would be more appropriate, so I divided the dough in 16 pieces, and made smaller versions of the pretzels. These were also good, but I think I preferred the larger pretzels because they had a better ratio of doughy inside to crisp outside, for my taste.

Either way they're great. Next time I think I am going to try making them into pretzel bites (ala the movie theater, with molten cheese on the side, mmmm.) I also have some big plans for hot dogs wrapped in pretzel dough.

Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Alton Brown, 2007
Makes 8 large or 16 small pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
22 oz. all-purpose flour (4 1/2 cups)
2 oz. unsalted butter, melted (1/2 stick)
vegetable oil
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tbs. water
pretzel salt (or sea salt or kosher salt)

stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment

-Combine the water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. (If the mixture doesn't foam, throw it out and start over with new yeast.)
-Add the flour and butter to the mixer bowl. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low until well combine. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes.
-Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and sit in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in side.
-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper, set aside.
-Bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an saucepan.
-In the meantime, turn the dough onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces (or 16 equal pieces for small pretzels). Roll out each piece of dough into a 24 inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U to form a pretzel shape. Place on parchment lined sheet pan.
-One by one, drop the pretzels into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water with a spatula or a slotted spoon and return them to the sheet pan. Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt. If you don't have pretzel salt, use sea salt or kosher salt.
-Bake until dark golden brown in colors, approximately 12-14 minutes (10-12 minutes for smaller pretzels). Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then serve warm.

NOTE: These can be flash frozen after the baking soda bath, then stored in ziploc bags in the freezer. Defrost before continuing with the recipe. They don't taste as amazing as they do fresh, but they're still great.


Anonymous said...

Ohhhhhh yum! I haven't made these in FOREVER. You know why?? Because I ate practically the whole batch last time I did. Mmmmm....

Anonymous said...

Homemade pretzels are right up there with homemade bagels — if you can get a really good one for a buck at a place nearby, then go for it and save yourself a little clean-up. But if you can't, then you'll amaze yourself at how good they taste and how relatively easy they are to make.

Add homemade crackers to that list. Seems silly when you can buy them by the box, but then you make them yourself and you want to quit your job and stay home and bake all day.

mary said...

These look delicious. I love Aunty Annie's pretzels. Yum.

Peabody said...

These look so good, soft pretzels kick butt.

muddywaters said...

I've had the urge to bake a batch of pretzels for two weeks. You've inspired me to take action.

Great pictures. . . Very appetizing.