Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Yummm, Pretzels!

I don't know many people who are immune to the charms of a freshly baked pretzel, or should I say pretzels, because you can't just have one. These pretzels are pre-cooked in boiling water to which baking soda has been added, so you're dealing with a reactive solution that should not come in contact with aluminum. Be safe and use stainless utensils.


2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
cup warm water, about 120ºF
1 tablespoon oil

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash, do not add to dough!)

Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

To make yeast dough:

Dissolve sugar in ½ cup warm water, sprinkle the yeast on top, and let this rise for 10 minutes.

Put three cups flour in mixer, add salt and mix. When yeast mixture is ready, stir it with a fork and add this along with remaining 1 cup warm water and oil to mixer. (I always use the paddle attachment for this step.) Slowly add remaining flour to mix, keeping in mind you might or might not need all of the flour, so add it slowly. Changing over to the kneading attachment, I let the machine knead the dough to the proper consistency. Occasionally, I take the dough out of the bowl, and give it a few good kneads on the counter; this tells me if I need more flour or not, rather than rely on the appearance of the dough in the bowl.

When the dough has reached the desired consistency, place it in a greased, covered bowl until doubled in size. Let the rising take place in a warm area of your kitchen. This rising usually takes an hour.

Punch down dough and separate into 8 pieces. (I cut my ball of dough like I would a pie - I find this the easiest way to divide the dough into even pieces.)

Pretzels are formed like this:

Roll out each piece of dough to about 20” long

Cross over ends, twisting them as above.

Fold up twisted ends as shown.

Let the pretzels rise again on parchment-lined baking sheets for about 15 minutes before boiling.

You will now prepare your boiling mixture: fill a large non-reactive pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons baking soda and let the soda dissolve.

Add the pretzels to boiling water in small batches, say 2 or 3 at a time, turning each pretzel over once, for a total time of about 1 to 2 minutes. The water doesn't have to be at a rolling boil:

Remove from water with a slotted spoon and return to parchment-lined baking sheets.

Wash each pretzel with an egg wash. I always add a bit of water to the beaten egg.

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and bake in a 400 ºF oven in top and bottom thirds of oven for 25 minutes, checking on pretzels after about 10 minutes and switching the baking sheets’ position in the oven. (Get that? Put the bottom one on top, and the top one on the bottom. I knew you’d understand!)

You’re in for a treat!

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