Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Handmade Soft Pretzels

We love pretzels in our family! Many years back we started taking trips to Lake Tahoe with my family, both in the summer and the winter. There's a beautiful resort on the North Shore we stay at that has an amazing lake-front lodge restaurant. There are panoramic views of the lake and in the winter, it's fun to find a cozy spot to eat breakfast and watch the snow fall onto the lake.
Well, I can't quite remember when it happened, but some years ago my husband began a love-affair with their bread basket. Yes, a bread basket...but not any ordinary bread basket. This basket comes filled with something for everyone: sourdough rolls, garlic rolls, breadsticks and little miniature loaves of PRETZEL BREAD!
All of these come homemade and they are warm & tasty. But something about that pretzel bread won over my husbands heart. From then on, he was determined to find it somewhere, but it was nowhere to be found. That left him begging me to "PLEASE re-create" the pretzel bread!!
Well, I've gotten a few recipes off the web, but have honestly never made it. I guess we'll just have to try to get to Tahoe this winter and find ourselves cozy inside the lodge with a glass of wine and a basket of pretzel bread. That actually sounds like a better idea to me!!

Anyway, I found this recipe from good old Alton Brown...these will have to satisfy for now, but I must say, this recipe is SUPER GOOD and very easy to make!
I used Sea Salt to sprinkle on the top, but next time I think I'll try a little cinnamon-sugar mixture or maybe even a garlic-herb. I'm also thinking I'll make a double batch, bake then freeze some. Try them...the kids will LOVE them and they are a perfect after-school snack!

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pans
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
  • Pretzel salt or Coarse Sea Salt

Combine water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 min. or until the mixture begins to foam.
Add the flour and butter and, using a spatula OR a dough hook attached to your mixer, mix until well combined. Continue kneading for about 5-10 min or until dough is smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for around 55 min. or until the dough has doubled in size. ***Now, mine didn't quite double in size, but everything turned out fine!
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside. Bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8 quart pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24 in. rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined pans.
Place pretzels in boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a LARGE flat spatula. (They will be slippery) Return to the sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt (or any other spice you'd like). Bake until dark golden brown in color, approx. 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for a few min. before serving.

I cut them then shaped into balls

Look how hard they are concentrating!

here's my U shape...perfection is NOT necessary!

looking a little better...

Everyones took a dip in the water, now it's time for the oven

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