brian and i love big salty soft pretzels. so what better to do on a saturday afternoon, when it’s 85 outside? bake pretzels! yes, we do have a brand new ice cream maker that we love and possess several ingredients for, but that would make sense.. ice cream on a hot day. see, we wanted to make the unexpected. these things left us giddy. so good. this was no mall pretzel, nor a street pretzel. these were special. slightly crunchy outside, super soft and delicate on the inside. they required a lot of steps and attention, but all common sense stuff. we actually had a lot of fun making them. shaping them was mr. hare’s forte, as he looked up a tutorial online. they were very easy to make, just time consuming… and it was a little difficult to hang out in our hot little apartment with the oven going, on such a hot day. we had gotten the idea several months ago to make pretzels, but had to work up the effort to actually execute. i modified several recipes that i found here and there to create one that was “for me”. it was really fun! i love yeast breads. not just the taste, but the process. i love to knead. i love to rest the dough and come back to a huge ball of spongy flour that is twice the size it was an hour ago… we always go for a walk while dough is rising, and it was so cool to see the dome created when the air expanded under the plastic wrap…
let me just say, these are super good, amazing, and incredible(!) eaten the same day as they are baked. they are pillowy soft and moist. there was nothing about them that wasn’t amazing. though, we did notice, they didn’t age well. the next day, they were still good, but a little more like a bagel… denser than the day before, and the toppings were a little melted into the pretzel. i had a day-old with some cream cheese and it was excellent, it just wasn’t the angel it had been the day before!
we made half the batch sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and the other half salted. we even salt & peppered a few. we made little chubby ones, huge thin ones, sweet, salty, and all the in betweens. let your hunger be your guide. dip the sweet ones in yogurt or cream cheese (or frosting…), and salty ones in mustard! it is a healthy snack, made with white whole wheat and minimal fat. this was a really fun project, and would be great for weekend guests to help make and eat.. -(sean pm, i’m looking at you..)
this recipe makes 6 pretzels. you can use white whole wheat, spelt, or all purpose flour. i wouldn’t recommend going off course from that. we tried whole wheat pastry flour and they came out too dense.
big fat soft pretzels:
1 tsp dry active yeast (i use yeast made especially for whole wheat)
1/2 tsp or so of sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup flour (i used white whole wheat)
2 tbsp sugar or honey (i used honey)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp baking soda
1 cup hot tap water
coarse salt (i used margarita salt)
dissolve yeast and 1/2 tsp of sugar in warm water. let stand for 5-10 minutes. mixture will be foamy and smell like beer when it’s ready.
mix yeast mixture with flour, sugar, salt, and oil, and knead until well combined, maybe 5-8 minutes. set ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour. when you return to it, dough should be doubled in size.
preheat oven to 425f. racks should be in the middle section of oven.
cut risen dough into 6 equal pieces. roll each into a strand, like a bread stick, and set it aside, until all 6 pieces are shaped like strands. let them rest like this for a minute or 2. now take one, gently stretch it out with a rolling motion. if you feel like the dough is “relaxed” enough, shape into a pretzel shape, and set it on cookie sheet that has been lightly coated with oil. repeat with other 5.
mix baking soda with hot water, and stir to dissolve. gently dip each pretzel, one at a time, into water, and back onto cookie sheet. sprinkle with whatever you want (we used margarita salt and pepper for half, and cinnamon sugar for the other half). if you can’t get your toppins to stick to the pretzel, you can paint a thin layer of egg white on the tops before sprinkling with salt or sugar. stick in the oven for 8 minutes, until just golden brown on top.
remove from cookie sheet immediately and cool on rack. eat ’em up!