Filed under: Non-plastic related, Recipe | Tags: comfort food, favorite recipe, soft pretzels
Proving this blog does not need to be entirely dedicated to plastics, here’s my recipe for great soft pretzels. However, if I need to justify this blog to the boss, plastic is used somewhere in this process (plastic wrap for one) and I think I use a plastic spatula at one point during the cooking process.
4 1/2 cups of bread flour
(whole wheat flour contains more gluten, which makes the pretzel more dense, more elastic. I prefer this over regular all-purpose flour. Consider rye bread vs. white bread.)
4 tbsp. of melted butter
(traditional soft pretzel recipes do not call for butter, but I include because, well, I love butter. So it is optional … but use it. 3 tbsp. will go into dough, save approx. 1 tbsp. to brush over top of finished pretzels.)
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) of yeast
1 1/2 cups of hot water (approx. 110˚)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
8 cups of boiling water
3/4 cup of baking soda
Kosher salt to sprinkle over top of formed, but uncooked, pretzels.
Combine hot water, salt, sugar into large mixing bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add yeast, give a quick stir and let sit for 10 minutes. Yeast will foam on surface, mixture should smell a little like beer (don’t drink it, it’s not beer).
It’s easiest to use a mixer with a dough hook at this point. If you don’t have one, no problem, simply mix by hand (just requires a little more effort). Turn mixer on low and slowly incorporate the flour and three tbsp. of melted butter. Once it’s completely incorporated, turn mixer up to medium and let it further kneed the dough, 5 to 10 minutes. The more you kneed it, the chewier the pretzel (consider pie crust vs. pizza crust). I generally take it out of the bowl and kneed it by hand for a few minutes as well. Grease the bowl, place dough back in and cover with plastics wrap. Let it sit for at least an hour. It should double in size.
Once your dough is ready, preheat your oven to 425˚ and also bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and toss in baking soda (careful, it’ll bubble and make a residue mess). Cut dough into 6 oz. dough balls (should get around 6 to 8 pretzels) and softly roll out into 24 inch ropes. Curl into your preferred pretzel shape (this takes practice) and dip into water/baking soda solution for 30 seconds. This provides the nice dark brown pretzel exterior (you can also use a lye solution, but I don’t typically have lye around the house … and it’s poisonous). Place on a greased cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. You can also brush egg whites on your pretzels before adding salt for a darker brown color, but I don’t find it necessary. Just before I pull them out of the oven, I brush them with melted butter.
I like my pretzels dipped in spicy mustard or a spicy cheese dip. If you have kids, rather than shaping them into the traditional pretzel, roll out dough and wrap it around a hot dog. Dip it in the solution and bake for 15 minutes for a “corn dog” style effect.
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