Sorry for the delay on the anticipated pretzel tutorial. Things have been crazy around here. Joe and I are headed to Denver on Saturday, and needless to say we have both been working a ton to get in our hours before vacation. I have had these pics on my camera for almost 2 weeks now!
The first time that Joe and I ever made pretzels was a few years back at either Thanksgiving or Christmas time. My dad had just been on a business trip in Germany and came home raving about the soft pretzel street fair. He really wanted us to make them as the dinner bread. The first time we made them as pretzel sticks. They were good, but not perfect. A few years passed by…. I decided one week at the Farmers Market that pretzels would be an awesome thing to sell. So, I talked to Joe about it and he said he would make them for my market and see how they went. Most weeks they sell really well, but I have learned that everything is hit or miss at the market. One week I will sell out of an item and the following week I will sell 2. But, there are definitely many people that come back asking for the pretzels each week. After several weeks of practice, Joe has perfected the pretzels. They are OUTSTANDING! I like them best straight out of the oven (naturally), but they are really good just popped in the microwave for 10 seconds too.
As with any yeast bread, pretzels need some kind of starter. Different breads have different starters – sourdough has a special starter that takes days/weeks to develop, some breads use a sponge, and other breads use a quick starter that just needs to sit minutes before use simply to activate the yeast.
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
–Combine water, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit about 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes:
In the meantime, combine the following ingredients in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached:
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
Add in the yeast starter, and mix with the dough hook until smooth and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Continue to run the dough hook to knead the dough for about 4 minutes.
Once the dough has been kneaded, transfer the dough to a oiled or cooking sprayed bowl. Cover with a damp towel and move to a warm location for about an hour (we usually put the bowl on top of the refrigerator). The dough will double in size.
After this rise, separate the dough into 8 equal pieces. A sharp knife or a pizza cutter work well.
*Note, we are doing a double recipe, so that’s why there is a lot of dough*
Using your hands and a clean counter, roll a piece of dough into a long rope – about 18-20 inches long.
Now, take the rope and make a U-shape out of it.
Twist the U one time.
Twist it again.
Then, fold the tails over the curved top.
Place the pretzel on a lined sheet tray and repeat the pretzel shaping with the remaining dough.
Let the pretzels rise for about 15 more minutes. While they are rising, bring the following to a simmer:
1 gallon water
1/3 cup baking soda
*Yes, the soda marks WILL come off when the pot is washed :)*
Drop about 3-4 pretzels into the soda water top side down.
Simmer for about 10-15 seconds. Then, flip the pretzels over using one of these:
Simmer on the flip side for another 10-15 seconds. Remove pretzels and place them back onto the baking sheet with the flipping tool above.
Top pretzels haven’t been simmered, bottom have:
Once all of the pretzels have been simmered, take 2 egg yolks and whisk with a fork. Use a pastry brush to brush each pretzel with an egg yolk wash.
*Note: somehow the pictures of the brushed pretzels pre-bake disappeared*
Sprinkle the pretzels with sea salt.
Bake the pretzels for about 15 minutes, or until golden. Let them cool on the tray for a minute or two and then transfer almost all of the pretzels to a cooling rack to cool completely. The ones that miss the transfer need to be eaten while warm for pure enjoyment.
Seriously, homemade soft pretzels are very easy. They take some practice, but are totally worth the work!
On a personal note… two exciting things:
1. Joe and I are officially on vacation and will be heading to Colorado tomorrow
2. I am running a half marathon again on September 12. Training has been going FAR better than the last one!
Have you ever tried making soft pretzels? How did they come out?
What would you like to see a tutorial on next? Sweet or savory?