Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Soft Pretzels

I channeled my inner Auntie Anne last night and churned out some delightful pretzels that I got from another food blog - which I recommend they have some really tasty looking things on there.  These are relatively simple and I found quite relaxing to make.  They can be a little time consuming.  They are best eaten hot; however, I had some today with lunch and they were still decent not as good of course.  Do not store them in a covered container they will get soggy.  I only made a half batch of this recipe and I got 16 small pretzels from it.

 Makes 16 full-sized or 32 small

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt -  I had some pretzel left from the frozen pretzels I eat but i think coarse salt would work well too
cooking spray

1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into a large bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined and  until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.  Add another 1/2 cup flour, and mix.. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); mix until combined. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.
3. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray (I just quickly washed and reused the bowl I made the dough in)  Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.
5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. ( I found that rolling pretzels on a plastic cutting board worked much better than my floured counter) Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fill a large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted flipper (a slotted spoon will work but you may also break a pretzel or two)  to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm.

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