Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Recipe: Pretzels

Homemade pretzels are a treat. Unlike "bar" pretzels that are crunchy and dry, homemade pretzels are soft and chewy, light and tasty.  They are really a pastry!
I made some Sunday afternoon and they were delicious.  They are made with yeast, so the dough needs some time to rise, but they are quite easy to make. If you can make a loaf of bread, you can master the pretzel.  (If you are interested in the history of the shape of the pretzel, check out this blog post.)
 I made these pretzels in 2 different shapes -- the simple folded pretzel (bottom) and the double twist (top).
This recipe produces only 6 large pretzels (about 5 inches across).  You can make them into smaller pretzels, but next time, I will double the recipe.  This dough makes a somewhat sweet pretzel, so you can make these pretzels sweet or savory.... Just sprinkle with salt or cinnamon sugar.

Pretzel Dough
1 cup milk
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 T brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour + more for kneading
2 T butter at room temperature (plus 2T more for the topping)
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup baking soda
2 T course salt or cinnamon sugar

Warm the milk to about 110 degrees or until warm to the touch.  Pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle with the yeast. Allow the yeast to soften for 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of flour with a wooden spoon. Combine.
Stir in the butter.  Add 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 tsp salt.  Roughly combine.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 minutes until smooth.
Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover.
Allow dough to rise in a warm area until doubled in size about 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch the dough to deflate and then place on the floured surface.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces (or more if desired).
Roll each piece into a 28 inch rope.  Form each rope into a pretzel shape (see diagrams below).
Mix the baking soda and water in a bowl.
Dip each pretzel into the water mixture and then place on baking sheet.
Sprinkle with some salt (if desired). If using cinnamon sugar, wait...
Bake 10 minutes for large pretzels and adjust the time if making smaller pretzels.
Remove from oven when browned.
Melt the additional butter for the topping. Spread onto each pretzel and if using cinnamon sugar, sprinkle onto the buttered pretzel.

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