I was in the mood for some baking this past weekend. My first thought was bread. However the bread recipes I wanted to make needed at least an 8 hour rise. Well, I wasn’t gonna wait 8 hours, so I decided to make pretzels. In culinary school, I baked every type of bread, pastry, cake, etc… you can imagine, except pretzels. So I figured I’d try them. Then afterwards, while eating a freshly baked, hot from the oven pretzel, I wondered why the heck had I not made pretzels before? Seriously. They.Are.Fantastic. Oh, I will be making these again. Soon.
Soft Pretzel Recipe
1 c warm water (110 degrees)
1 package (or 2 1/4 tsp) dry active yeast
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 c flour
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
6 c water
3 tbsp baking soda
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water
2 tbs coarse sea salt
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes to bloom. Add the water/yeast along with the melted butter, brown sugar, salt and 2 3/4 cups of the flour to your heavy-duty mixer and knead dough for about 8 minutes, adding the last 1/4 cup of flour if necessary. You can also do this by hand. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but very uniform and smooth. Place dough in a large oiled bowl, and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled.
2. Punch down, and divide the dough into 12 equal shapes and form them into small balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for 15 minutes. Roll them into 20″ lengths and form them into pretzel shapes. If you notice them getting hard to roll (springing back), cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling out. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the pretzels to rise for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
3. In a large pot, bring the baking soda and water to a boil. Add the pretzels one at a time to the boiling water for 1 minute. Press down into the boiling water with a spatula. Remove and place on a cooling rack. When cooled, transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and bake for 12-15 minutes, until dark brown.
Note: To ensure the dough is thoroughly kneaded, take a small piece and roll it into a ball. With your thumbs, stretch the dough until either it tears or becomes transparent in the center, also known as a window. If you cannot stretch the dough to form a window, knead a little longer.
Note #2: If you have a kitchen scale, use that to weigh out the 12 balls of dough. They should be right around 2 oz each.
Makes 12 Pretzels