Soft Pretzels

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I was once stuck in the LaGuardia airport for 8 hours, and since the Air Canada terminal barely had anything aside from an Auntie Anne’s Pretzels I was limited in my dinner options. I would probably say this was the beginning of my soft pretzel addiction. I later made them for the first time on National Pretzel Day (April 26 for reference) and have since used this recipe to make pretzels for any random occasion.

When making my last batch I actually made an error. I placed the dough in the mixmaster bowl and covered it with a damp cloth to rise, and put it in the oven (off) so it was in a warm dark place. I later turned the oven on to preheat (for something else) and forgot the dough was in there. 30 minutes later I realized the rising dough in the bowl was beginning to bake. I have since learned to check if anything is in the oven before preheating it.

Anyways, I’m sure I’m boring you with my stories about pretzels, let’s get to the recipe. Try this with half multigrain flour for a bit of a more nutritious option.

The base recipe comes from Baker By Nature (adapted).

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

1 1/2 cups very warm water
1 Package Rapid Rise Yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 and a 1/2 cups bread flour (optional to make 2 and 1/2 cups of it with multigrain bread flour)
6 tbsp margarine, softened

For the Cooking Liquid:

8 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda

Egg Wash

1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt

Toppings

Flaked Sea Salt

Directions:

Combine water, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Sprinkle with yeast and let stand for 10 minutes (until foamy).

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In a stand mixer with hook/dough attachment add flours, margarine and yeast mixture. Mix until combined and dough is kneaded (10-12 minutes).

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Transfer the dough to and oiled bowl and let rise for one hour (doubled).

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Preheat oven to 450˚F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large wide pot bring water and baking soda to a boil.

Divide dough into 8 pieces, then divide each in half to create a total of 16 pieces. Roll each ball of dough into a strand (approximately 3/4-1 inch thick).

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Shape the dough into a “U”.

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Fold the right edge towards the left 1/3 of the strand.

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Fold the left edge towards the right 1/3 of the strand.

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Fold the end of each dough under the pretzel.

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Place the shaped pretzels in the boiling water for 20-25 seconds.

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Brush the pretzels with egg wash and sprinkled with flaked sea salt.

Bake for 10-13 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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The dough freezes well once shaped and can be used at a later date. Allow to defrost and continue from boiling baking soda mixture.

Science Fact of the Week:

Although I’ve always used yeast in baking, it wasn’t until grade 12 that I understood how it works. Yeast are small single cell organism that make the dough rise by metabolizing simple sugars. Carbon dioxide and alcohol (not in alcoholic levels) are released into the dough to make it rise. This is used to help bake breads, cinnamon rolls, pretzels and even pizza dough.

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