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Soft Pretzels

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I love it when Victor watches cooking shows.  He can actually be a lot more adventurous than me.  I’ll dismiss something out-of-hand, where he will actually give an idea a fair shake – like today’s pretzels.

I don’t think I’ve ever made soft pretzels before.  I’ve made bagels – which have some similarities – but never pretzels.  So… when Victor mentioned a pretzel recipe from Alton Brown, I encouraged him.  (I ain’t no fool!)

He printed off the recipe and off to the kitchen he went.

Less than 10 minutes later, I hear a shriek of despair.  Warily treading into the kitchen, I see Victor, sobbing.  We had no flour!   I couldn’t believe it.  We always have flour in the house.  I start going through the cabinets, myself.   We had half a bag of self-rising flour (which wouldn’t do at all) and half a bag of King Arthur White Whole Wheat.  We decided that white whole wheat would make perfect pretzels.  Crisis averted (and note to self to buy flour tomorrow)!

The recipe is very straight-forward and really quite easy.  The weather was perfect and we put the dough out in the back yard to quickly proof.

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After rolling and forming, they went – one at a time – into the boiling water.

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Our “pretzel salt” was actually “San Francisco Bay Salt” from – you guessed it – San Francisco.  I remember the huge salt ponds in the bay when I was a kid growing up.  It’s a really large crystal and the perfect size for the pretzel.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007

  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Inactive Prep Time: 1 hr 0 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Serves: 8 pretzels

Ingredients

 

  • 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

 

Directions

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.

I had mine with a sweet and spicy mustard, Victor stayed with traditional yellow.

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Now…  these are not exactly diet-foods but at about 200 calories each, they’re doable in moderation!  I froze half of them to lower the temptation factor!

Yum.

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