Soft Pretzels, Sweet and Savory

Hello! I hope some of you are still out there waiting for a new recipe!

In the long time since my last post I’ve switched careers, made some new life goals, found new friends, and tried a lot of new (and really good) food. In the next few months I’m hoping to revamp the site, so don’t be afraid if things start to look different; the recipes will still be as awesome as ever.

What’s new with you all? What fun things have you been up to?

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Where I am in the U.S., spring is finally in full bloom. Birds are singing, flowers are bursting through the dark ground, and there’s that energy in the air that is hard to describe. I like to spend my days wandering, either in the city or at the beach, acclimating to the sun in anticipation of summer.

The hot days then give way to cool evenings that are perfect for sleeping. They’re also, thankfully, perfect for baking.

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One of my favorite springtime snacks has always been a good soft pretzel. I’ve always associated them with boardwalk rides and baseball games, grainy mustard, and happiness. Even back before I liked mustard, I would make an exception for soft pretzels and slather them with the stuff. Have you ever seen someone unhappy eat a soft pretzel? I think it’s impossible to eat one without having a huge smile on your face.

I love eating soft pretzels but had never before made them. This spring has made me crazy about hand-food, though. Do you guys get that, too? I feel like the more time I spend outside, the less patience I have for utensils. Enter soft pretzels, the perfect snack/ lunch vehicle/ bready dessert.

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The boiling before baking makes these take a bit longer than typical baked goods, but believe me when I tell you that they are worth it. Be aware of a baking soda boil splatter, though, and think about lining the area around your boil pot with a layer of tin foil. I doubled the batch so that we’d have pretzels galore, but be aware that the dough does dry out if you let it sit; if you also choose to double the recipe, make sure to get the first batch boiled before starting on the second.

Happy pretzel-eating, and happy spring!

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Soft Pretzels, Sweet and Savory

Adapted from Alton Brown’s soft pretzel recipe. Instructions are the same for both sweet and savory pretzels up until toppings are added, then the recipe diverges. This recipe makes 8 large pretzels. 

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 envelope active dry yeast

22 ounces all-purpose flour

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil, for the bowl and pan

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

 

For savory pretzels:

1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Pretzel salt or coarse table salt

 

For sweet pretzels:

About 2 ounces butter, melted

Cinnamon sugar (I like a 1:2 ratio cinnamon to sugar), enough to dip pretzels into

 

Add the first three ingredients– warm water, sugar, and kosher salt– in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it rest for five minutes or until the mixture starts to foam.

Once the yeast is foamy, add the flour and butter. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix on low speed until well combined. Up the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. You can also do this part by hand; it will take longer but isn’t nearly as bad as, for example, hand-whipping cream.

After kneading, remove the dough from the bowl, then clean and oil the bowl. Re-add the dough and cover the bowl in plastic wrap. Set it aside in a warm place for about 50 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

When your dough has doubled, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a couple of sheet pans with parchment paper, oil lightly, and set aside for later use.

At this time you’ll also need to bring the 10 cups and baking soda to a rolling boil. Like I mentioned, the boiling baking soda will mark your stovetop. It’s easy to clean with a wet cloth, but for even easier cleanup I’d recommend putting tin foil over the stovetop areas that you are not using. Alton recommends using something wide and shallow like a roasting pan, but I used a large pot and had no trouble.

While waiting for the water to boil, turn your dough ball out onto a lightly oiled work surface. For large pretzels, divide into 8 equal pieces or more for smaller pretzels. Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope. To shape, first bring the rope into a U-shape, then cross the ends of the rope over each other and press them to the bottom or top of the U.

Add the pretzels individually to the boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove them with a large, flat spatula. Place them on the prepared sheet pans.

For savory pretzels, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk mixture and sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. For an added twist, try adding rosemary or finely-chopped raw garlic to the tops of the pretzels.

Bake the pretzels until they are dark golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

For sweet pretzels, bake the pretzels naked and cool for at least 5 minutes. Once cool, brush with melted butter and dip, butter-side down, into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Let the butter cool before eating.

Both sets of pretzels will store for up to a week in an airtight container.

 

 

Submitted to the monthly linkup at Searching for Spice

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