I have been craving soft, chewy pretzels for a while, though I've never attempted them because they seemed so daunting. Now that I have a stand mixer at my fingertips I thought I'd give it a go. 
(though it's not necessary to make these pretzels, just knead the dough by hand)
Recipes that require yeast usually intimidate me but this couldn't have been easier.
Added bonus: making them at home means you know exactly what goes in them!
                     
Soft and Chewy Pretzels
adapted from Annie's Eats via Alton Brown

(makes 8 pretzels)
Ingredients:
1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 T sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (or one packet) 
about 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 T unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil for greasing the bowl and parchment paper
20 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
parchment paper or silpat

For topping:
if you want an egg wash: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 T water
if you want a butter wash: 3 T melted butter
pretzel, or coarse sea salt
cinnamon and sugar

Directions:



To make dough, combine the warm water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast. Once the yeast is foaming (after about 5 mins) add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead on med/low speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl (about 5 mins).
Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased/sprayed with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.
 Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (I put mine in a somewhat sunny window), for about an hour or until dough has doubled in bulk (it took my dough about an hour and a half to double).
Bring the 20 cups of water and baking soda to a boil in a large stockpot.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. 
(I used my silpats which worked great)

Divide the dough into eight equal parts:
(just keep halving the parts until you get eight)
Working with one piece at a time, roll them out until you have a 24 inch rope:
(I found it much easier to roll once I cleared all the flour away)
To make the pretzel shape:
-start with the rope in a U-shape.
-holding the ends of the rope, cross them over (either once or twice, depending on how you want your pretzels to look) and bring them down to the bottom of the pretzel.
-press the ends lightly onto the pretzel to make sure they stick.
-once shaped, place onto the lined baking sheet.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water two at a time for 30 seconds. 
Remove with a slotted skimmer/spoon. 
Return to baking sheet. 
Once pretzels have all been boiled, brush tops with egg wash or melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. If you are doing cinnamon and sugar, have c&s mixture ready in a pie dish and dip the tops of the pretzels in it after brushing them with butter.
(You can by all means choose to bake your pretzels at this point, but after reading comments on the Annie's Eats tutorial, I decided to freeze mine after boiling, but before baking in lieu of a more chewy texture. I'm not really sure if it would make that much of a difference if you didn't freeze before baking, so if you are tired and just want to get the pretzels into your belly then skip the freezing step and bake away!)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

If you chose to stick it out and freeze your pretzels:
While your oven is preheating, let the pretzels thaw on top of the warm oven.
Once thawed, place in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
When your pretzels are done, place on a cooling rack (very important so they don't get soggy) for 5 minutes and then eat those babies up!
These definitely taste best straight from the oven, so if you can't eat 8 right away (or at least within the day) then I would suggest only baking what you plan on eating and transfering the rest of the frozen, unbaked pretzels into a ziplock bag until you are ready for more.

Plan on setting aside a few hours to make these. They aren't difficult, but there are a lot of steps to follow. Totally worth all the effort though, I think I will be making another batch this weekend!
Let me know if you guys make them!

2 comments

  1. Nicole on February 9, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    I had no idea you boiled soft pretzels! I love the smell of yeast doughs and the puffiness of them rising-I always have to resist the urge of sqeezing them to deflate, usually I'm successful.
    These look so amazing-I've never made them before but I can't wait to try them!! Ooo and I have some truffle salt in my cupboard....I'm super excited. ;)

     
  2. Kira on February 9, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    They sound and look amazing. I will never make them though. I can't handle more than 20 minutes in the kitchen.

     


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