Monday, April 28, 2014

Soft Pretzels

 Home made soft pretzels??? Seriously??  YES Seriously!!! They're really not that difficult and the payoff is HUGE!! They're warm and chewy and they always hit the spot. I made these a while back with my friends Denny and AJ and Kelsie. We had such a good time! Lots of laughs and also a lot of "Whose pretzel looks the best?" hehehe
 Now, I know making home made soft pretzels may seem a little scary, but as my Mother used to always tell me "Just follow the recipe." This one is from Alton Brown and each step is explained very clearly. I know you can do it! Better yet, invite a few fiends over for a pretzel making party! Just be sure to have some spicy brown mustard on hand for the finished product! Not a mustard fan? Try serving broken pretzel pieces as a dippers for spinach dip or warm cheese sauce.

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

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 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. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
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, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. 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 5 minutes before serving.

If you don't have a stand mixer with a hook attachment, you can still make the pretzels. You just have to knead them by hand. TBH, I couldn't find my hook, so the pretzels you see in the picture were kneaded by hand. Yes, it's a little more work, but it wasn't really that bad. I did the same technique as with kneading pasta.

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