Pretzels (The Soft Kind, of Course)

It’s been a while! School is finally out, and so it’s about time to celebrate academic success with some rockin’ pretzels. This is my second time using this recipe, so maybe you will find some helpful tricks along the way that I have yet to discover. If that happens, please let us all know in the comments 🙂

So! Let’s get down to business and gather our ingredients.

IMG_3944

Now, a few notes:
The recipe says warm water- I find that about a minute in the microwave will get it plenty warm enough. Then, you’ll want to microwave the butter to melt it, which you should only do right before using it. This means you want to melt just one half a stick at a time, which will only take 45 seconds to do.

For your reference, this what should happen at the end of the five minute period that you should allow after mixing the sugar, water, and yeast for it to get “foamy”:
(I know, it may not look like it’s in a bowl at first- sorry!)IMG_3945

It was cold in my house today, but not cold enough to put the fire on, so I improvised. I turned the microwave on for a minute to heat it up, then put the dough in a covered bowl in the warm microwave. No, I did not microwave the dough. I just took advantage of how a microwave can become a little warm box if properly used. And I got a pretty decent rise out of it:IMG_3950

The cool part about pretzels (and bagels) is that they boil before they bake! So, we divide up the dough,
IMG_3951

shape the pretzels,
IMG_3952

and boil them to make the outside a little firmer than the inside,
IMG_3953

Well, that turned in to a bit more than just a few notes, but with all that in mind…  we can start!

Pretzels:
Prep time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
Yields: 8 pretzels

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), divided (1/2 stick at a time), melted
  • 10 cups water (to be boiled in a large pot)
  • 1/2 cup baking soda (not completely necessary, but may help)

 

Toping options
(add all toppings with melted butter layer)

  • Cinnamon sugar; 4 tbs sugar vs 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Garlic Parmesan; 5 tbs parmesan cheese, 2 tsp garlic powder, and a couple pinches of Italian seasoning or herbs if you’re feeling fancy
  • Plain sea salt also works great!

(My favorite is cinnamon sugar…)

 

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine water, sugar, and yeast. Stir it together very lightly for just a moment, then let it sit for about 5 minutes until slightly foamy. Once it’s foaming, stir in 4 cups of flour, the salt, and melted butter until a dough forms.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10-15 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in the process. Knead until smooth, soft, elastic, and slightly firm. This should seem just a bit more dense than the average bread dough. Lightly grease a large bowl, place in the dough ball, and cover. Let rise in a warm draft-free room for about an hour until doubled.
  3. With about a half hour left for the dough to rise, mix the 10 cups of water and 2/3 cup baking soda together in a large pot, and start heating the water. Prepare baking sheets with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  4. After the hour is up, take the dough out and punch it down. Now you can turn the heat on the pot all the way up to make sure it starts boiling. Divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 2 foot length, and then twist into the pretzel shape.
    (Next time I will make sure to include a couple photos of the twisting step so it’s more clear.)
  5. Using a slotted spoon, put each pretzel (one or two at a time) into the boiling water for 30 seconds, flipping once halfway through. When all of the pretzels are out of the water, place them onto the baking sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until the pretzels are a deep golden brown.
  6. While the pretzels bake, mix the toppings you want! Brush the warm pretzels with melted butter then add the toppings. (The amounts of each ingredient for the toppings listed above are meant to cover all 8 pretzels, so reduce proportions if you want multiple kinds.)

 

Baking might make your pretzels crack open a bit like this
FullSizeRender

But don’t worry about it, because once you put your toppings on they’ll look mighty pretty!

IMG_3955

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