Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe: Soft Pretzels

When I was a kid we lived in Germany. Every day, and especially on weekends, there were a slew of food vendors selling their goods to the silly Americans. My favorite truck sold fresh baked bread and every variety of Haribo gummi candy imaginable. The best thing that they sold though, were these humongous soft pretzels. I swear that they were about a foot wide. I dream about these pretzels.

On Superbowl weekend I tried to make my own. They came out pretty good, but not great. The other day I while perusing the blogosphere I found a really easy recipe, so I thought I's give it a shot again. While they didn't look as beautiful as I hoped, they tasted delicious. I took them to work the next day, and received great reviews from the guys. The only complaint I heard was that I didn't bring mustard!

Here's the recipe that I tried from Alton Brown via Annie's Eats:

For the dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl
For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel (or kosher) salt

To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast.  Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.

In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, roll a segment out into a 24-inch long rope.

cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel.  Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds.  Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and return to the baking sheet.

Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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