Round Forty Three — Soft Pretzels
I know I’ve been kind of slow on the upkeep of this blog. But it’s not my fault.
Go ahead and try to blame him. I know I have.
It has not gone well.
Percy, as we’ve named him, moved in this weekend and I think he’s planning to stay. I think we’re OK with it. So long as he lets me bake, which so far, hasn’t been a problem.
These soft pretzels are a perfect complement to my husband Elliott’s Sunday Vikings Game-Watching Ritual. I’m kind of the best wife ever, not only letting him take over the TV for a few hours when I could be watching Project Runway marathons, but also making him game-day food. Yes, I’m gloating. As a (albeit lukewarm) Bears fan having lived with an obsessive Vikings fan for over a year, I think I’ve earned my right to do so.
But back to the pretzels. It took me multiple tries to get the twisting right (a few look like strangled pretzels, while others are just ugly blobs), but I eventually figured it out. The dough rose incredibly well and the boiling/baking process was really easy. The hardest part was keeping myself from eating them right away (a burnt tongue never killed anyone).
And Percy? Well…
I guess he’s more patient than I am.
Debrief: The pretzels will look ugly after being submerged in the baking soda bath. Don’t worry — this is normal. They’ll look less wrinkly once they’ve been baked (but there’s no saving the ones that are shaped nothing like pretzels).
Courtesy of Michael Knock, the Iowa City Press-Citizen
Yields: 8 pretzels
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp salt
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water
Kosher or pretzel salt (or sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese) for dusting the pretzels (or sea salt, as I used)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until slightly foamy. Add in melted butter, flour and salt and, using the dough hook, knead for about 4-5 minutes or until the dough is cohesive and has pulled away completely from the edges of the bowl. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
When the dough is nearly doubled, bring to a boil the 10 cups water and baking soda. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line two baking sheets with lightly oiled parchment paper. In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and water for the egg wash. When dough is risen, remove from the bowl and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a 2-foot long rope and twist into a pretzel shape, pinching the edges to keep them from coming apart.
Using a turner, place one pretzel at a time into the baking soda bath and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the bath and place on parchment paper. Brush each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt or topping of your choice. Once all pretzels have been boiled, bake for about 12-14 minutes or until a deep brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.