Thursday, October 1, 2009


Flipping through a few cookbooks one day I found a picture of homemade pretzels and a pint of beer. The recipe for soft pretzels just seemed intriguing and promised to be yummy. It takes some time to make but a lot of that time is waiting, rising and baking. And the process of forming the dough is fantastic. Here it is:

2 1/4 tsp dry yeast (1 package)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
6 cups water
cooking spray
2 tbs baking soda
1 large egg
2 tsp salt (kosher or sea - or replace this with sesame seeds)

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl and let stand 5 mins.

Spoon 3 cups flour and 1 tsp salt into yeast mixture. Stir together until soft dough forms. This is the beginning of your basic bread mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (counter top) and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 mins). Kneading involves working with the dough in a push and pull method. You'll find the dough changing under your fingers and the feel of the dough is wonderfully tactile. Add some flour (about 1tbs at a time) if the dough starts sticking to your hands but it should feel slightly sticky.

Place the dough into a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning the ball of dough to coat it. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 40mins. The dough should double in size in this time.

Preheat oven to 425 F and divide dough into 12 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll each into a long rope (about 18"). Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4" at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle and fold the ends over and into the traditional pretzel shape. Alternatively, you can make smaller pretzel sticks or whatever other shape you would like!

Place your pretzels on a greased baking sheet and let rise again for about 10mins.

Combine 6 cups water and the baking soda in a pan or dutch oven (not aluminum). Bring this to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Gently lower one pretzel at a time into the simmering water for 15 seconds, turn and simmer for 15 more seconds. Do this to all the pretzels returning each one to the creased pan. When they are all finished with the boiling process, beat the egg with 1tsp water and brush this over the pretzels. Sprinkle the salt or seeds on top of the pretzels. Bake at 425F for 12 mins until they are deep golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool and enjoy! These are great for a party or a nice light snack.

They will last about a day but then they'll get chewy and stale so keep this in mind. They're impressive for guests but do them the day of your event or party to keep freshness. And they're excellent with mustard!

Though they're satisfying in their doughiness, the pretzels only cost you 140 calories and about 2 grams of fat each.

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