There’s something special about pretzels.
No, not the tiny hard ones you buy in a bag (though they do have their place!). I’m talking about the big, warm, soft, salty variety that makes you want to live in a pretzel shop. My friend Andrea and I decided that not only can soft pretzels end wars and cure world hunger, they also make the PERFECT snack. What more could you want in a food?
I found them on one of my favorite blogs, Annie’s Eats, and then my friend Tram made them and posted about it on her blog, Momma Bird’s Kitchen. I’d been wanting to make them for months, and I finally got my chance.
Mine aren’t as cute and little because (A) It was really hot outside, and I was going back and forth to Stephen and the grill outside by the pool, and (B) I was in a huge hurry and juggling corn cobs and dishes and a spastic timer. And also because I wanted to eat them and didn’t want to waste time making them look pretty. Thus, I ended up with the “rustic” look. That I intended them to have all along. Ahem..
By the way, if you missed my previous post, I’m splitting our Memorial Day Menu into several posts:
So, without further ado (who am I kidding? There’s always plenty of ado when I’m around), the Glorious Pretzels of Peace and Love.
You really don’t need any special ingredients! That’s awfully exciting for someone on a budget (though you do need a hefty amount of baking soda…).
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 4 Tbs butter, melted
- A splash of vegetable oil for greasing the bowl
- Cooking spray or silicone pan liners
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbs water
- More salt for sprinkling
The actual baking process is pretty quick, but you do have to let it rise. Also, I only have a hand mixer. I don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook. If you do, use it. If not, work harder and still end up with delicious pretzels.
- Combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix on low speed until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and butter and mix just until it starts looking like dough. At this point, either switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, OR flour your hands, stick ’em in and moosh them around for a while until the dough becomes more solid and smooth. Move the dough to a large bowl with a little vegetable oil drizzed in it. Turn the lump of dough once to coat the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 55 minutes (it should double in size). I put it in the trunk of my car. This is Texas, friends. I’m surprised it didn’t start baking in there.
- Preheat the oven to 450° F. Lay the silicone pan liners on 2 baking sheets, or spray both sheets lightly with cooking spray. Put the water and baking soda into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Take one piece, roll it into a long rope, about 18-24 inches. Make a U-shape with the rope, twist it, and fold it back over to make a pretzel shape. Once you have all the dough shaped into pretzels, place one of them into the boiling water for about 30 seconds each. Fish it out of the water with a slotted skimmer and return it to the baking sheet before moving on to the next.
- Brush the tops of the pretzels with the egg/water mixture and follow with a light sprinkling of salt.
- Bake 12-14 minutes or until “dark golden brown.” Cool on a rack for about 5 minutes before serving. Or not:
Next, I’d really like to try mini pretzels, cinnamon sugar pretzels and mustard pretzels. But not all at the same time. That would be weird.