When I lived on my own I would bake pretzels every time there was a snowstorm. Not sure why this was, maybe it was the smell of something warm and gooey resonating through my apartment or just the comfort it lent from eating them while looking out the snowcapped windows.
The tradition still lives on in my house and today is no exception. My daughter and I are now in the kitchen baking up a wonderful batch of ooey gooeyness. Of course, she's more taken with a lemon and trying to squeeze it into the dough, but it's all good. Honestly, there's really nothing that can ruin a white snowy day and seeing the snowflakes accumulate inch by inch.
I've learned the hard way that instead of doing the whole wheat version, I'm better off with regular white flour. Of course, using the healthiest (ie, GMO-free) kind I can find! It's made my life a lot easier. I follow Alton Brown's recipe below, but I do omit the butter. Really though, with 403 5-star ratings, how could you go wrong?
Homemade Soft Pretzels
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil, for pan
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel salt
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. 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 approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting 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-inch 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 half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.