Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Soft Pretzels

Before winter break from school, my oldest son's German class had an assignment to make and share food from Germany ( or German related food).  My son made these hot pretzels below. He found a recipe from the web and we cut it in half to make 8 soft pretzels . Cut in half, the recipe was very similar to a recipe I got from a friend years ago. I don't have a stand mixer so the dough was mixed in my food processor using the dough blade and the dough setting. The hardest part of the recipe was just twisting the pretzels into a pleasing pretzel shape... And even that was pretty easy.  So the recipe is below. I do not know where my friend got the original recipe, but it is not mine. Still, it's so good, I wanted to share it with you. 

Easy Peasy Fool Proof Homemade Soft Pretzels

3/4 c warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast ( I think it is equivalent to half a packet)
2 1/2 c all purpose flour plus a little more for kneading
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp melted butter
10 c water
2/3 c baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp water
Pretzel salt
Nonstick oil spray or olive oil

Combine water and sugar in a stand mixer or food processor bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit for 5 minutes till foamy and frothy.

Next add flour, salt, and melted butter and using dough hook or dough blade mix ingredients and knead for 5 minutes till smooth and not sticky. You might need to add a little more flour as necessary. At the end of 5 minutes the dough should be smooth and  it should pull away from the side of your bowl.  

Remove dough from food processor or mixing bowl and roll into a ball shape. Put it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour. (Hint: if you live in a place where it is not warm or if your house is cold, set the bowl on top of the stove and turn the oven on warm or low @ 200. The heat below the bowl will help the dough to rise. I use this method successfully all the time with breads and rolls.) The dough should be doubled in size by the hour's end.

Bring 10 c of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a soup pot and preheat the oven to 450.

Separate the dough into eight pieces and using your hands roll each piece into  a 12-24 inch rope. Mine were somewhere in between.  Make a U shape with each rope and then criss-cross each end over the other making a "close to classic" pretzel twist, and press each crossed end into the bottom of the U  to form each pretzel. Put pretzels onto an oiled parchment paper covered cookie sheet. 

Gently drop pretzels into boiling water, one at a time for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon or  spatula. Drain for a second or two and put back onto parchment covered cookie sheet. When all pretzels are out of the boiling water, mix egg yolk and 1 Tbsp of water and beat together.

Brush each pretzel with egg yolk- water mixture and  sprinkle with pretzel salt.  Bake in 450 degree oven till dark golden brown in color,  about 12-14 minutes. Once out of the oven, remove pretzels and transfer them to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

I would suggest eating the pretzels right away as they are best that way. My son took them to school the next day in a Tupperware container, and while they still tasted good, the tops had softened and wrinkled up somewhat. Before I make them again, I need to investigate the best way to store them, though they are so good they won't last overnight in my house with 3 teenage boys. I think I will try a batch with white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour or a mix of whole wheat and all purpose just to see how that works.

They are perfection , however, just the way they are. Enjoy!

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