The time: Winter
The scene: The mall
The emotion: Hunger
The solution: A soft pretzel
Last March, while at the mall with my boyfriend, we stopped off and shared a soft pretzel at Wetzel’s pretzels after a movie. Especially in the cold, the pretzel was warm and delicious and divine. Immediately after we gobbled it down I wanted another. But one must at times, resist temptation…and then promptly return home and find a recipe to make them at home!
As usual, allrecipes.com provided me with an answer, and bless Christa Rose, whoever she is, because her recipe is genius and since I’ve found it, I’ve become possibly the most popular person in my office. Just kidding–I’ve just become resident pretzel-maker.
The recipe is simple–but it does take some prep time and some patience–but oh it is so, so worth it if you love yourself some salty carbohydrates.
When preparing the dough, make sure you use hot but not boiling water. The dough needs somewhere warm to rise. The first time I made the dough I just let it sit in the kitchen but there wasn’t enough heat to make it really rise well. I rectified that situation by preheating my oven and placing the dough near the vents in the oven. It worked out quite nicely, as you can see:
Though my kitchen was small and I only had two cookie sheets, I was able to transform my apartment, for a time, into a pretzel factory. I don’t have much counter space, and so I moved the pretzeling to my dining room table, which explains some of the crap you see on the table in the next picture.
While these little fingers of dough were to become pretzel bites, I also had to have some twisted ones for myself and the boy.
I’m thinking in the near future I might want to play around with some flavors, too. Maybe dot one of these bad boys with some Parmesan, Asiago, and jalepenos? Mmm.
Please make sure you use the baking soda/water bath. This gives the pretzel its pretzelyness. Otherwise, it’s just baked dough. Trust me. And baking soda and water? Cheap, and much safer than using lye, which is what pretzel makers originally used in their baking process.
One thing I changed about the original recipe as I found it at Allrecipes was that I substituted oil for butter in the dough and added the melted butter at the last step before it goes into the oven. Butter makes it…buttery, but oil will make it vegan, so if you are vegan or have vegan friends, it’s still damn good without the dairy.
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 4 cups hot water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the butter and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
- When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush on melted butter. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.