I am pretty sure that I have told you all a million times that I am not a baker. I am happy to say that I have finally mastered pizza dough and now pretzels. If it wasn’t for the show Chopped I don’t think I would try baking ever again. The chefs on the show have both cooking and baking under their belts which completely amazes me. The can literally make anything right there on the spot with such weird and limited ingredients. How can someone be artistic and scientific all at once? Perhaps one day I too can be a jack of all kitchen trades.
A long time ago came across a recipe for soft pretzels and filed it away under the “I will make this one day” folder on my computer. I think it’s been in there for 2 years among other pastry and bread recipes that I have purposely ignored. Then not too long ago I came across another pretzel recipe and another and another with most of the reviews saying how delicious they are and how easy pretzels are to make. When I decided to make beer and cheddar soup I caved.
SOFT PRETZELS adapted from an Alton Brown recipe
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil, for pan (I skipped this step)
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel salt (I used sea 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. (omit this, it works better without the 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.
Just like the reviewers said, pretzels are easy and also delicious. J took one bite and said “I love you” which means that I once again stole his heart through his stomach. How pleased am I? Extremely.
With this particular recipe lots of reviewers were saying that their pretzels were sticking to their parchment paper. Mine didn’t stick at all and maybe thats because I didn’t oil my parchment paper. Once I took them out of the oven I immediately put them on a cooling rack and had zero issues.
I don’t have pretzel salt so I used chunky sea salt to top a couple pretzels with just so I could make them look more official but J and I both don’t like crunchy salt on our soft pretzels. We both pick off the salt when eating them at hockey games or ball parks. The water bath you first boil them in has enough baking soda to give them a nice subtle hint of salt but if you’re a salt lover then knock yourself and salt away. Just remember, if you spill the salt it’s your left shoulder you throw it over.
FYI-These are best the same day but if you have leftovers don’t put them in Tupperware or an airtight container or they’ll get soggy.