Sunday, April 10, 2011

Homemade Soft Pretzels

I always have mixed emotions when I bake things like this at home. I start out feeling a huge sense of accomplishment that I am able to make things like this in my own kitchen and then I feel angry that I never had enough faith in my cooking abilities to realize a long time ago that I could do it. Had I challenged myself a long time ago to do these things, I would have been making some seriously good things years ago! :)

A friend of mine had forwarded me a recipe for whole wheat soft pretzels and asked if I had any interest in blogging it. I was very interested in making pretzels so I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, that recipe was a flop. I'm not sure if it was the whole wheat that made my dough really tough and essentially a giant blobby mess or what, but there was no way I was making pretzels out of it. At that point I had my heart set on pretzels and there was no turning back. I grabbed my trusty bread baking bible otherwise known as:

I cannot say enough times how much I love this book. There has not be a single recipe in this book that hasn't turned out perfectly and it has really got me feeling confident in my bread baking abilities. Who kneads ( <--- LOL) a bread machine when you've got this book?? Not me!

Anyhow...back to my pretzels.

I whipped up the dough for these pretzels in just a few minutes and then the dough just had to sit around doing its own thing for a few hours while I got other things done. After a quick dunk in some boiling water and then 15 minutes in the oven *POOF* you've got some out of this world soft pretzels. I can honestly say that the hardest (and most amusing) thing about making these pretzels was figuring out how to make the pretzel shape. I felt ridiculous in my first few attempts...I mean, how hard could it be?? After cracking up and having my 7 year old laugh at me, Bryan stepped in and showed me how to do it! LOL How does my husband know how to make a pretzel shape and I don't? I was a quick learner and the pretzel making continued after a few more chuckles.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 1/8 cups bread flour
Start by mixing the yeast, water, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

Add the bread flour and stir with a spoon until it looks dry and shaggy.

Wet your hands slightly and then gently mix the rest of the flour in by hand. You don't have to knead the dough, just make sure all the flour is worked in.

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. You can either make your pretzels right away, or refrigerate the dough for later. The dough is actually easier to work with when it is cold and the recipe says you can keep this dough refrigerated for use up to 14 days!!

When you are ready to make your pretzels, dust the surface of the dough with a little flour and cut off a piece of dough about the size of a small peach. The book says a 3oz piece of dough...I used my kitchen scale and the pieces I used were about 4oz-5oz each. You can do it however you like to. My recipe made 8 pretzels. Take the peach sized piece of dough and work it into a small ball by folding it under and smoothing out the top with your hands.

Elongate the ball of dough and keep rolling it on a floured surface into a 12 inch long rope.

Here comes the funny (and hard part of shaping the pretzel). Place the rope of dough into a U shape. Twist the dough around each other twice and then fold it down and press to make a pretzel.

I can guarantee you that you'll need to do this a few times to get the hang of it. Worst case scenario you'll have delicious pretzels that look absolutely nothing like a pretzel. It won't matter, you'll still eat it.

After you finish each pretzel, place it on a baking sheet and cover it loosely with plastic wrap while you make the other pretzels. Once you have shaped all the pretzels you can move on to boiling them.

You will need:
  • 8 quarts boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
You will also need 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water to make the egg wash and sea salt for sprinkling.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the center rack and a broiler pan on a rack below it.

Bring the 8 quarts of water to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer and add the baking soda and cream of tartar. You will notice it starts REALLY bubbling up after you do, so make sure to adjust the heat before you add it.

Cook the pretzels either one at a time or two at a time, making sure that the pretzels do NOT touch each other while they are boiling or they will lose their shape. Boil for 2 minutes on the first side and then flip with a slotted spoon and cook on the other side for an additional 1 minute.

Remove the pretzel from the boiling water and gently blot both sides on a kitchen towel lightly dusted with flour. You don't want to leave it sitting on the towel or it will stick to it. Just blot off the excess water and then place it on a cutting board dusted with whole wheat flour. Once all of the pretzels have been boiled, make the egg wash by mixing one egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash on the pretzels and then give them a generous sprinkle of sea salt.

Place the pretzels on the hot baking stone and then pour 1 cup of hot water in the broiler pan below it (this will create steam in your oven while the pretzels bake).

Make sure you close that oven door quickly to trap the steam. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the pretzels are a deep golden brown. Make sure to keep a good eye on them when they hit the 15 minute mark and pull them as soon as they reach the desired color.

Let them sit for a few minutes so you don't burn your mouth, but make sure to thoroughly enjoy them while they are still warm! That is the best part! What a DELICIOUS snack!


Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} said...

Oh yum! Warm and chewy - just the BEST!

Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

YUM! Bet they'd be good with a sesame seed topping or poppy seed topping too!

briarrose said...

I definitely couldn't be trusted around these....they would be mine...alll mine!

Lisa said...

what a great idea to make pretzels! must've been one cool friend! ;)

Farrah said...

It was a VERY cool friend. I miss her :)

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