Thursday, September 17, 2009
One of my earliest vivid memories is shopping with my mom at our dinky little mall (now a small strip mall) when I was 4 or 5 years old. I loved going to this mall with her- partly because I learned the art of shopping at an early age (something I've already taught to 2-year old Rebecca) and partly because I could beg and plead for her to get me a soft pretzel from the pretzel stand.
It was a kiosk in the middle of the mall that sold gorgeous, saltly, doughy soft pretzels on a stick. And to make it even more heavenly, they could dunk it completely in that gooey fake, hot soft cheese. I'm making myself hungry now.
These little pretzels (which ended up being MUCH bigger than I expected, by the way) were so close to that pretzel I remember so fondly (minus the disgusting yet delicious cheese). In fact, they were so similar that Brian cracked up as I took a bite and exclaimed "Oh my gosh! They taste just like a soft pretzel!" Sometimes I sound like such a dork.
I was slightly surprised at how easy these work to make. Really, the only "difficult" part was the boiling and that took me a total of maybe 20 minutes, tops. They're best stored at room temp, uncovered. Not that we had to worry about that since the entire batch was eaten within 24 hours. :)
2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt (I used kosher salt since it was all I had. It worked just fine!)
vegetable-oil cooking spray
Combine the warm water, 1 T of sugar and the yeast into the bowl of an electric mixer and stir together. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
Blend 1 cup of flour into the yeast mix until well combined, then add the salt and 4 additional cups of flour, mixing until well combined, then beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Now add 1/2 cup more flour and combine until dough is smooth.
Lightly mist a large bowl with oil and roll the dough a few times to coat, then cover with a kitchen towel. Let sit in a warm location for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 450° and prepare 2 baking sheets with either lightly sprayed oil or parchment paper (I went for parchment paper) and set aside.
Punch down the dough to remove any air bubbles (my FAVORITE part of making doughs) and divide into 16 equal pieces for larger pretzels and 32 for minis. *Note: I took the notes on Smitten Kitchen's recipe calling them "miniature" quite literally and also made some larger (like half the batch I made into 4 pretzels rather than 8 for the large size) pretzels. However, during the boiling process they puffed and the large ones got HUGE and the mini ones got to be the size I was expecting. Holycrap huge. I ate them to hide the evidence of my mistake. :D
Take the dough pieces and roll out to 18 inch long strip (or "worms" as Rebecca kept calling them) and twist into pretzel shapes, then place on the prepared baking sheets. Let rest for 15 minutes.
While the pretzels rest, fill a pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add in the baking soda and additional 2 T of sugar. (Careful, it fizzes a lot!) Reduce the water to a simmer and place a few pretzels in the pan (I could only fit 2 at a time. Just make sure you have enough room that they don't stick and you can easily get to them to flip them). Let them cook for 1 minute in the water, flip and cook the other side for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on the baking sheet. Continue until all the pretzels are done.
Beat the egg with 1T of water, then brush the egg over each pretzel and coat with salt.
Bake until the pretzels are golden brown, roughly 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Source: Smitten Kitchen