Oct 17, 2009

homemade soft pretzels

As part of an Oktoberfest dinner party we had a couple weeks ago, Matt and I made these fabulous soft pretzels. We had made them once before last spring, and just like before they were no fuss and easy to pull together. This time we got a couple kinds of mustard to dip them in, and I would totally recommend this Jack Daniels version, yum!

I always thought soft pretzels were one of those items you got at the fair, or sports games, not something you made. But the homemade version is so incredibly yummy, that I think it will be hard to go back to the sports game variety. These pretzels are soft and chewy, and I like how when I make them at home I can add as much or as little salt as I want.

Similar to other kinds of bread the primary ingredients are flour, water, yeast and salt. I still have yet to find a local all-purpose flour, so unfortunately can't say that these are very local. I do wonder however if there is fair-trade flour that I can get? Hmmm, something to look into. I pretty much followed the recipe spot on for these and both times have come out with fantastic results. Though they take about 1 hour and 30 - 45 minutes to make, the hour is really due to them needing to rise until about double in size.

homemade soft pretzels
from Alton Brown via the Food Network

makes 8 soft pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
2 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
pretzel salt (large flake salt - I used Maldon)

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 4-5 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 50-55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil.

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 pan.

Place the pretzels in the pan 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with your favorite mustard and/or pint of beer.

photography by: alison clayshulte

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