Feb 10 2011
I made way, way too much food for the Super Bowl this year. Though excited about the pretzels, we were simply too stuffed from everything else.
The good news is that these are extremely easy to make, though they do take a little time because you first poach the pretzels, then bake them. Still, in the grand scheme of things, big deal, right? I mean, they are homemade soft pretzels.
I had high hopes of rewarming these the following day, and making a beer cheese dipping sauce to round things out. Sadly, the suggestion of leaving them uncovered at room temperature resulting in pretzels so hard I feared I would crack a tooth trying to bite into one.
However, they form condensation if you wrap them in plastic. So what do you do? My best advice is to only make them for a larger group, so they’ll be eaten the same day. (I of course sampled the tiny pretzel after they had cooled slightly – they are good. Very, very good.)
The trickiest part of these pretzels, for me anyway, was the twisting! I stood there and immediately drew a blank, so I thought I’d post step-by-step pictures in case you decide to make them yourself.
When finished with all dough, cover pans with kitchen towel to let rise slightly, about 10 minutes. You can probably tell by the picture which pretzels were made in the beginning, and which were done towards the end!
Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through.
2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
3 tablespoons sugar, divided*
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt
1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle with yeast, let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 3 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup more flour and knead on low for another minute. If dough is still wet and sticky, add another 1/2 cup flour (this will depend on humidity); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.
3. Pour oil into a large bowl; use paper towel to distribute oil throughout bowl. Transfer dough to bowl, turning over to coat dough with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place (during the winter, I set my oven on warm and place the bowl over the oven vent) for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Heat oven to 450°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Set aside. Punch down dough and transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) and cover with plastic wrap.
5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [Like Deb, this step was easier for me on an unfloured surface.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; you may need a third baking sheet. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 10 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fill large pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Carefully add baking soda (stand back, it bubbles up violently) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg wash. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day. Rewarm in a 250-degree oven.
*I followed Deb’s advice to add some sugar to the poaching liquid to obtain a deeper brown color.