12.29.2011

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels - Easy!!
I have always enjoyed a good soft pretzel.   But, then again, I am a nut for bread, period.   Add to that a craving for mustard, and I am drawn into the fresh, hot, soft, warm, delight, smothered with the tang of a good yellow mustard!

I am also a pinterest addict.   I think I spend more time on pinterest than on Facebook, which seems to be more productive.   Where is this going, you ask?  While perusing pinterest in search of ideas, I came across a pin for hot soft pretzels.  The picture of the pretzels was great, because a wicked craving for fresh hot soft pretzels ensued and was not satisfied until this morning.  So, all in all, that craving lasted 2 weeks, about?

I never really thought that making pretzels would be enjoyable.  I believed they were probably too complicated and the outcome would pale in comparison to those made at the pretzel stand in those rotating ovens.  I think I believed the magic to a good pretzel was in the machine and not in the recipe.  Oh boy was I wrong.  I got up this morning and started making my weekly batch of Challah (a recipe and tradition I picked up years ago while living and working in New York).   The recipe I had printed off from Fifteenspatulas.com was staring at me, begging me to just try it once.  I relented.  

It was easy!  If you make bread on a regular basis, or even if you make it occasionally, but enjoy it, Pretzels are a simple, fun, and enjoyable treat!  I had wished I had tried this years earlier, when my kids were still small.  They would have had so much fun!  I can honestly say, I am looking forward to grandkids some day, and making up for denying my kids the fun!

This recipe is basically Fifteenspatulas.com recipe.  I have doubled it and included instructions and a link in how to twist your dough into the pretzel.   Please enjoy!  If you have kids on vacation right now, get them involved!  There twists will be delightfully imperfect and unique.  Take a picture, send it to us and just have fun with it!

Jenni

HOMEMADE SOFT PRETZELS

Dough:

5 c flour
1 t salt
2 t sugar
2 pkg rapid rise instant yeast
2 c warm water

Open packages of yeast into the bottom of a stand mixer bowl.  Add the warm water to the yeast mix.  Let stand a few minutes.  With the paddle attachment in place, mix softened yeast and water on low speed for 2 minutes.  Stop and add to the yeast mix, the salt and sugar.  Again, on low, mix for a few minutes.  Now, slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have added 4 cups.   Remove the bowl and the paddle, scraping the dough off into the bowl.  It will be soft and still very sticky.  Use a rubber scraper if necessary.   Turn out the down onto a floured smooth surface.  Gradually add the last cup of flour as you need the dough.   Add enough flour to create a soft and smooth dough.  The dough should still be warm, because of the temperature of the water.  Grease the bottom of your mixing bowl with butter and use any remaining for the top of the dough.  Place the dough into the bowl.  Top with a wet, warm flour sack towel and put into a warm place to rise for about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.   Lightly grease a baking sheet.  I use a half-sheet jelly roll pan lined with a silicone mat.  It aids in proper cooking and browning, without burning.

When the dough has risen and is double in size, turn out onto a slightly oiled countertop.  Cut the dough in half, then each piece in half again, and continue until you have 16 pieces of dough.  Let rest for 5 minutes.   While the dough is resting, in a small bowel, combine 1 c of warm water with 4 T of baking soda.   Whisk until soda is almost completely dissolved.  Water will be cloudy appearing.

Roll each piece of dough into a long rope.  Shape into a pretzel by turning the piece of dough into an upside-down U shape.  Take the ends of the dough and twist together 2-3 times.  Then take the twisted end and bring it up and press it into the center of the U.   See this wikihow site for pictures on how to twist a pretzel. 

Dip the entire twisted dough into the bowl of water and baking soda.  Place onto the prepared baking sheet.   Sprinkle the pretzel dough with coarse sea salt and rest for 10 minutes.

Place into the preheated oven and bake for 9-10 minutes.  These do not take long to bake, so keep an eye on them!  When golden brown, remove from oven and brush with melted butter.  

PRINTABLE SOFT PRETZEL RECIPE HERE