Monday, January 17, 2011

Time-Out: Homemade Pretzels

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When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite after-school "treats" were baked pretzels.  These "treats" were savored because we rarely got them!  While most of the time we had the frozen pretzels that were baked in the oven, sometimes Mom would bake them with us. 

I really think these are perfect for kids.  First of all, I always thought dough was like magic; you put it in a bowl and then an hour later you come back and its grown!  Magic!  Second, allowing the kids to roll out their own pretzels and then wash them with egg yolk is fun.  Plus, if you ration out the salt then you know they aren't pouring the salt over them! 

This was my first time making them myself, but I was pretty happy with how they turned out.  I used Alton Brown's recipe but since I didn't have a stand mixer I had to invent some ways to make them! I thought the boiling before baking (which mom never did) was genius.  It really gave them a traditional pretzel feel.  YUM!  I wanted to make a bunch of different kinds for you all but John was intent on pure salt!  Figures...but, they came out so good.  I had to share.
Homemade Pretzels
Serves:  6 (12 pretzels)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
5 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk, beaten
2 tablespoons pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar, and kosher salt in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for about 7 minutes, or until it begins to foam.  Add the flour and melted butter; using an electric mixer, mix the dough on low until it is well-combined (should be crumbs of dough).  With your hands, knead the dough together for 5-7 minutes until the dough comes together and is smooth.  Wash the bowl and using vegetable oil, cover the inside of the bowl.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Let the bowl sit in a warm place for about 55 minutes*, until the dough has doubled in size.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Brush two cookie sheets with vegetable oil and set aside.  Split the pretzel dough into 12 equal pieces.  Using clean hands, roll out the dough into 18-inch ropes.  Make a U-shape, cross the ends, and press the dough together where they meet.  This is important--make sure you press the dough so when it goes into boiling water, it does not fall apart.  After all the pretzels have been made, boil 5 quarts of water and 1/3 cup of baking soda.  Drop the pretzels in one at a time for 30 seconds each, removing each with a spatula.  Place each one, one-inch apart, on the greased cookie sheets.  Brush with egg yolk and top with pretzel salt.  Bake the pretzels until they are golden brown in color, about 13 minutes. 

To store, let the pretzels cool completely and place in a tupperware. 

*It's winter and my house is cold.  I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees F and then when the dough was ready, turned the oven off.  I opened the oven door and sat the bowl on the door (on an oven mitt).  It worked and it was warm enough to rise the dough.

These seriously have a ton of instruction, but really were a breeze.  Plus, with kids (or John) helping you, they were fast and really fun!  We ate them right out of the oven, and I really think they were the best way to eat them.  I heated the remaining ones when we ate them over the next few days.

Until the next time my oven is on...

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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