Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homemade Soft Pretzels

This was my first time trying to make soft pretzels so I basically followed Alton Brown's (Good Eats) directions to a tee. So all I have to add is my commentary (green) and some photos. For my next batch I'm going to try to replace some of the water with beer (duh).

•    1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
•    1 tablespoon sugar
•    2 teaspoons kosher salt
•    1 package active dry yeast
•    22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
•    2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
•    Vegetable oil, for pan
•    10 cups water
•    2/3 cup baking soda
•    1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
•    Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top (Make a starter, could also use active beer here). 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 to 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 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper (not needed with non-stick pans) and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
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. (This dough is very stretchy so it must be worked for a while and it works better if you get it very skinny down to less .5" diameter. Mine were a bit too thick)
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds (or once they start floating).
Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt (I used large sea salt). Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving (scarfing down).

Serve with homemade mustard (easy) to come.

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