Hospitality Corner: Homemade Soft Pretzels

I tend to gravitate towards baking sweets, but every now and then a salty snack is in order. Enter soft pretzels. These pretzels are salty, doughy, chewy and delicious, and they are great vehicles for dip. I made buffalo cheese dip to accompany them, and the bowl was scraped clean (I just mixed cream cheese and Frank’s hot sauce for the dip).

Soft Homemade Pretzels

The recipe for the pretzels comes from smittenkitchen.com, and this is actually the second time I have made them. I’m not much of a recipe-repeater, but these are just that good! The first time I made them (last Spring), I threw them together in a few hours. This time ’round, I took my cue from a suggestion in the comments under the recipe posted on Smitten Kitchen, adapting the pretzel dough to be made and formed the day before serving, chilled overnight in the fridge, and then poached and baked the next morning. This approach was ideal as I was serving the pretzels at 10:30 am. The following instructions give both options for preparation.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 packed active dry yeast
  • 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons canola/vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • coarse salt

Method

  1. Combine warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar in bowl of electric mixer. Sprinkle with yeast; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast mixture, and mix using dough hook, until combined. Add salt and 4 cups flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat until dough pulls away from the bowl, about 90 seconds. Add 1/2 cup flour, kneading for one more minute. If the dough seems sticky, add another 1/2 cup flour and knead until combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth (about ten times).
  3. Coat bowl with vegetable or canola oil. Transfer dough to bowl, covering dough with oil. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm, draft-free spot for an hour. Dough should double in size.
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead once or twice, then divide dough into 16 pieces. If you want miniature pretzels, divide dough into 32 pieces.
  5. Working with one piece of dough at a time (and keeping remaining dough covered), roll each piece into an 18-inch long snake. Twist into a pretzel shape, and transfer to prepared baking sheet. As you work, cover the formed pretzels with a tea towel. If you are baking right away, let pretzels rest for 15 minutes, and then heat oven to 450 degrees F. If you are doing the overnight method, tightly cover pretzels with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge until the next day.
  6. If you have done the overnight method, pull the pretzels out of the fridge and let come to room temperature; this will take about an hour. While pretzels are resting/coming to room temperature, fill a large pot with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil and add baking soda and remaining sugar. Reduce to a simmer. Transfer pretzels, about three or four at a time, into water. Poach one minute each side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheets with parchment paper. Continue until all pretzels have been poached.
  7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water; brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake in 450 degree F oven until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Pretzels are best eaten warm, and should not be stored in a covered container, as they will go soggy.

For incredible gluten-free, vegan pretzels, check out http://www.blogher.com/glutenfree-hot-soft-pretzels. To make them vegan, I substituted brushing the pretzels with a little bit of oil instead of honey. I was so thrilled that this recipe worked – I have to admit I had my doubts about poaching gluten free dough, but amazingly, the pretzels didn’t disintegrate! Enjoy these pretzels, whether you make the glutenous kind, or the gluten-free ones.

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