Monday, November 15, 2010

Homemade Soft Pretzels

April has been requesting I make soft pretzels for at least 2 months now.. she even sent me a message one day at work with this picture and a caption that read, "I didn't know you made these too!"

She's a pretty good photo-shopper, right? I definitely laughed out loud at my desk.

Originally I tasked Mountain Man to make these little yeasty twists- after all, he is the self proclaimed yeast expert  in our house or should I say was.

While Mountain Man was away on a week long conference I decided to take the opportunity to finally make April the pretzels she's been begging for.

After a few pointers from MM on the way to the airport, I felt confident enough in my baking abilities to take on the mighty beast that is yeast without his supervision.

I must admit, the more I work with yeast the more I realize it's not as scary as I had originally made it out to be. Yes, yeast makes baking an hours long process and it is most definitely a diva (you don't see sugar throwing a temper tantrum when the water isn't warm enough), but the end product is well worth it.

These pretzels were everything I had hoped for and more. I love finding recipes that I just know will be a perfect addition at our bakery one day.

I'm even going to go out on a limb and say that these are better than any mall pretzel I've ever had.

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown (the genius that he is)
Prep time: 1 1/2 hours
Bake time: 15 minutes
Oven: 450 degrees
Makes 8 pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F degrees)
1 TBS sugar
2 tsp salt
1 package active yeast (2 1/4 tsp if you have a jar)
22 oz AP flour (approximately 4 1/2 cups)
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
veggie oil for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk with 1 TBS water
sea salt, for sprinkling

Combine 1 1/2 cup water, sugar and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Lightly whisk to break up yeast and allow to sit for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to foam (if the mixture doesn't foam, discard and try again)
Add flour and butter, and using the dough hook attachment of the mixer, mix on low until well combined.
Change to medium speed and knead until dough is smooth and pulls away from bowl (approx. 4-5 minutes)
Remove dough from bowl, clean bowl and oil well with veggie oil. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for about an hour or until dough has doubled in size* see tips

Once dough has risen, preheat oven to 450. Line 2 pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with veggie oil. Set aside.

Bring 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a large saucepan.

Meanwhile, turn dough out onto slightly oiled surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into about a 24 inch rope. Make a U-shape and holding ends of rope, cross over each other and press onto bottom of U making a pretzel shape and make sure you press well!
Place twists onto prepared pan.

Place pretzels, one at a time, into boiling water for about 30 seconds each.
Using a large spatula or pasta drainer remove them from the water and return to sheet pan.
Brush each pretzel with egg/water mixture and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake until gold brown for about 12-14 minutes.
Transfer to cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before eating.

Yeast Tips:
-When working with yeast, make sure your water is 110-115 degree with a candy thermometer.
-Yeast needs a warm place to do its magic, so when allowing your dough to rise make sure you put it in a warm place. A few suggestions:
        - Turn the oven light on and place your covered bowl in the oven.
        - If it's a sunny day, place your covered dough outside in direct sunlight.
        - If you have a garage that stays warm, place your covered dough in there (if your garage doors          
          have windows place it in the sunlight)

I highly suggest breaking into one of these while they're still warm. If you're eating them a little later, pop in the oven a couple minutes or throw em in the microwave.. they're fabulous warm.

Happy Baking!
Think I should submit to YeastSpotting??