Bread, Food, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Soft Pretzels

I don’t know if you remember, but I started this blog to teach myself how to cook.  Along the way, I have discovered that I can cook and bake….I have learned all kinds of little skills and found out where to go for information when I need it. I have been very proud of some of my cooking achievements and kind of bummed with the outcome of others.  But, these pretzels completely wowed me!

There are a few things I normally put into the category of “things I cannot make at home”——-things like: bagels, croissants, cinnamon rolls, danishes, doughnuts,–and soft pretzels easily fit into that category.  It is not that I don’t believe that it can be done–I just have been of the mindset that they would never taste as good as the bakery bought variety.  I was proven wrong with the cinnamon rolls I made a few months ago.  And, I was proven wrong with the soft pretzels I made a few nights ago.

This has inspired me to come up with a list of “things to attempt” and a “list of things to perfect”.  I should be posting that up on the little website soon but it is sure to include danishes and doughnuts, pasta and gyoza.  It’ll be my to-do list and will help keep me on track.

Anyway,  back to the homemade soft pretzels……..

There are five ingredients.  Flour, yeast, salt, honey and water.  So, these are vegan pretzels too (depending on how you think about honey, and for that matter, yeast).

It does require some rising time and some boiling (or is it blanching?)—but all in all, they are very simple to make and pretty quick.

Wanna try it?  I promise if you do, you will add these to your own ” I can’t believe I did this!” list.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Recipe from Baker’s Illustrated

Prep Time: 10 min

Inactive Time:  2 hours

Active time: 15 min

Baking Time: 12 min

1) In your stand mixer bowl, add the following ingredients:

3 cups of flour (they suggest bread flour but I used all-purpose and still loved them)

1 tsp yeast

1/4 cup of honey

1 tsp salt

1 cup of warm water (about 110 degrees)

2) Using the dough hook attachment, mix it together on low speed for 5-7 minutes.

3)  Let them rise!  Put the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl and let sit covered for about two hours.

For some reason, my little one decided to take a nap at 6:00 PM on this particular day and I was able to make pretzels, read an entire book on the biodiversity of life (OK, I skimmed it), finish up a blog post, make dinner and play with the dogs.  Gotta love that in-active cooking time!

4) After about two hours, punch down the dough and let it rise for about 45 more minutes.

5) During the second rise, get out your biggest pan –I used my mega-huge cast iron pan which is very wide and big and shallow.   Add 3 T of baking soda and 6 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.

6) While you are waiting, assemble your pretzels.  Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll into a 12 inch long snake.  Take your snake and make it into a long U shape.  Grab one end and fold it into the center of the U.  Take the other end and bring it to meet the first central piece.  Does this make sense to anyone but me?  Your pretzels should kind of look like this:

(I took this picture to show off my few perfect pretzels—believe me, there are some really bad looking ones on this tray.  Practice makes perfect!)

7) Once you have your pretzels assembled, they will need a hot bath.  Using a slotted spoon, drop them into the boiling water and let sit for 30 seconds on each side.  Remove from the bath with you slotted spoon or tongs and place on a baking sheet. 

8) Sprinkle with coarse salt or poppy seeds.

9)  Bake for 12-16 minutes or until well browned.  Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool.

10) Admire your creation….You really are an amazing cook!  And then serve them up with a side of mustard.  We enjoyed them slightly warm.