Thursday, August 29, 2013

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Charlie and I have a fun little annual tradition which consists of me making a batch of big soft pretzels and homemade mustard, then, dropping them off where Charlie works for him and his coworkers to enjoy.  Soft pretzels are fun to make and are a big hit with both Charlie and the rest of the employees!

Making the dough (I cheated and use my kitchen aid mixer).

A toasty little spot on the oven is a perfect place to let the dough rise.

After the dough has doubled in size, cut it into eight equal sized pieces (I use my handy kitchen scale to weigh each piece - they were about 5 ounces each).  By the way, notice the sheen on the counter?  I use my hands to brush vegetable oil all over my work surface.  I don't want to use flour because it will cause the dough to dry out.

Then, using your oiled hands, smoosh out one piece of dough into a squarish-rectaugularish-somethingish shape.

Roll it into a tube and pinch the seam.

Then, making sure both hands are moving in unison, start rolling out the piece of dough until you have a 24-inch rope (notice my ruler in the background?).  If you notice a break in your dough, your hands probably aren't moving in unison.  Just repair the dough as best you can, and try not to re-roll it out - I found that it makes for a very tough pretzel!

Then, for the fun part: make a U-shape with the rope.  Then, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Then, you dip each pretzel in a boiling water/baking soda bath for 30 seconds.

The brush with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and bake for 15 minutes!

Homemade Soft Pretzels (courtesy Alton Brown)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt (I used course sea salt)
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for five minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil (I used my silpat). Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.  I don't have an 8-quart saucepan, so I ended up with about 8 cups of water to 2/3 cup baking soda.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. 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 in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula or large flat spoon with holes in it. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least five minutes before serving.  Serve with homemade mustard (recipe coming soon)!

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