I have a thing for soft pretzels and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
It was my birthday on Monday, so I decided that to celebrate this momentous day I would blog a few times this week and share with you some of the things that I love. When I was dreaming up today’s post I thought about posting something chocolate filled and gooey, then my mind drifted to caramel (the chocolate covered kind of course) and then it was peanut brittle. I couldn’t decide.
Yes, for some reason I decided it was a pretzel kind of a day and the sweet stuff would have to wait. Thankfully I always have enough flour on hand to sink a small boat, so I hurriedly found a trusted source for a recipe and got everything together. But wait…… should I make cinnamon or salted pretzels? This was a question I easily answered and I decided to make both kinds. I’m not a pretzel and mustard kind of girl, so I didn’t get all fancy with dips and such.
I have never lived in a city where the mall housed a soft pretzel vendor, which is probably a good thing for my waistline, so soft pretzels are always a treat when I come across them at the malls across the border in Detroit. I can smell them a mile away. I am also pretty good at finding them at amusement parks as well, and always make sure to indulge myself.
You don’t need to have bread making experience to make these delightful pieces of heaven, just a couple of hours of your time (most of that time includes letting the dough rise) and a pot of boiling water. Since the dough is pretty stiff, a Kitchen Aid mixer (or other tabletop mixer) would come in handy for kneading, but you could easily use a food processor as well. It would definitely be a fun activity to do with your kids on a Saturday morning, since I know how much kids love to roll dough into long snakes. Use your imagination for topping choices and have some fun.
Once the dough has risen, cut it into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 2 feet in length. Shape into pretzels and place into the boiling water/baking soda mixture for about 30 seconds. This is what gives pretzels (and bagels) their distinctive chewy texture. Remove from the water with a slotted spatula and place on a greased cookie sheet.
If you want to have salted pretzels, then you will need to brush them with egg wash and sprinkle them with salt before you bake them, but if you’re craving the cinnamon-sugar kind then bake them plain and brush with melted butter immediately after you remove them from the oven. Be liberal with the cinnamon and sugar. Yum.
Soft Pretzels (adapted from Heather Christo)
1 & 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 & 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten
1 tablespoon water
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels~
4 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
Combine water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. Sprinkle yeast into water, stir gently and wait 5 minutes and mixture becomes foamy. Add flour , salt and butter and begin to mix with dough hook attachment on low speed, until ingredients are combined. Turn up the mixer to medium speed and work until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, make sure to knead until the dough is no longer sticky and becomes smooth to the touch. Remove the dough from the bowl, coat the bowl with cooking spray, return the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot in your kitchen until it doubles in size, about one hour.
Preheat oven to 450.
In the meantime, coat two cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a large pot or saucepan, combine the water and baking soda.
In a bowl, beat egg and water. When the dough is ready and risen sufficiently, bring the water to a boil.
Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 2 feet long. Twist into a pretzel shape. Place each pretzel into the boiling water for a 30 second bath remove with a slotted spatula and place on the greased cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse. Bake for 12 minutes or until the pretzels are a dark golden brown.
If you’re making cinnamon pretzels, then once they are removed from the oven, immediately brush with melted butter and cover with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
These are best served warm, but can also be eaten cold or reheated in the microwave.