Soft Pretzels

September 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

I know, I know. I didn’t post on Friday. I’m sorry. After making those crazy Oreo brownies, I needed a break from baking. And every time I tried to cook something blog-worthy for dinner, it turned out not really blog worthy. And I’ve been mostly eating cereal and sautéed vegetables. And Whole Foods has honey roasted peanuts that you grind fresh into peanut butter, so I’m eating way too many peanut butter sandwiches for my own good. But I always only make half a sandwich, so none of them REALLY count… right?

So, after a not-bad-but-not-great try at some cheesy broccoli beef pasta and discovering that I don’t like how mushy gnocchi is, I knew I needed to bake something. But I needed to bake something that isn’t a dessert food, since I have a freezer full of thin mints and a bunch of leftover Oreos in my cupboard. But I also have three loaves of bread on the counter, so standard bread was out of the running. Pretzels seemed to fit all the criteria, AND Brad and I love pretzels, AND you can make pretzel buns out of pretzel dough.

This recipe takes a few hours (mostly waiting for the dough to rise) but it is totally worth it.  I made a half recipe for my first try and will definitely make the full recipe next time.

Soft Pretzels
makes 12 

Like at the mall, only better.

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
about 3-4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda
large pot of water
egg whites, for wash
course sea salt, for topping

Mix the yeast, teaspoon of sugar and warm water in a large bowl. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it is foamy. Add the rest of the sugar, salt, oil and about 1 cup of flour into the yeast mixture. With a dough mixer or your hands, mix until ingredients come together. Add more flour in gradually, mixing (or kneading) the dough until smooth and not sticky.  Add in a few tablespoons of water if the dough gets too dry. (I ended up using 2 tablespoons of water and almost 2 cups of flour for a half recipe.) Knead dough by hand for about 5-7 minutes after adding all the flour you are planning to use.

Clean out the bowl and coat it with vegetable oil. Leave the dough in the bowl, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place for about an hour. The dough will rise to about twice it’s size.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a long rope and fold it into a pretzel shape. (Make a U shape, cross the two legs and press it down.) Cover the pretzel dough again with a towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of water with baking soda to a boil. Preheat the oven to 425°. When the dough is done rising, boil each pretzel for 30 seconds on each side, removing from pot with a slotted spoon. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of each pretzel with egg whites (or you can use whole beaten eggs) and sprinkle with course sea salt.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until medium brown.

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