Soft Pretzels

  • Serves: Makes 8 soft pretzels total in any topping flavor
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 400
  • Views: 10600
  • Comments: 1
Salted Soft Pretzels:
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Asiago Cheese Soft Pretzels:
pretzels2
 
Cinnamon-Sugar Soft Pretzels:
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Soft pretzels are a childhood comfort food for many, and they are so easy to make at home. They taste wonderful baked fresh and then dipped in honey or honey mustard right before eating. These are nice and chewy with soft insides, and are best eaten the day they are made, but can be stored at room temperature for a day or two or even frozen, except salted soft pretzels can get soggy when stored. We show you two ways to avoid this problem. Our pretzels get their thick crackly exterior and a chewy interior from first poaching the dough in a water bath of boiling alkalized water (baking soda and water), and then are baked. We include a short video on how to shape pretzels, as well as a special step-by-step how to pictorial lesson.
Sarah's
Secrets

Homemade salted soft pretzels are a delight. However, salted pretzels do not store well; if you store salted pretzels, the salt absorbs moisture from the air and melts, leaving you with a soggy pretzel. So we recommend two choices how to make them in Step III of the tutorial.

INGREDIENTS
Pretzel Dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water(about 100 to 110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast 
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 - 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim 
 
Water bath:
10 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
 
Egg wash, mix together:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
 
Toppings:
coarse salt, shredded parmesan or asiago cheese, cinnamon-sugar, sesame or poppy seeds
NOTE: When using coarse salt, we like to use fancy salt on pretzels, such as Breton Gray Salt. Kosher Salt works well, too 

INSTRUCTIONS
STEP I: MAKE THE PRETZEL DOUGH. LET THE DOUGH RISE.
Make the pretzel dough:
 
1. Oil a large mixing bowl and set aside.
 
2. Combine the warm water and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture. Let sit 1 minute, and stir. 
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3. Then set the yeast mixture aside for 5 minutes, or until the yeast starts to foam.

4. Clamp the mixing bowl onto the stand mixer and fit it with the dough hook attachment. 
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5. Add the melted butter, salt and 3 1/2 cups flour to the bowl and mix on low until the flour is completely absorbed.
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6. Turn on the mixer speed to low and continue adding in the flour until 4 cups has been well combined.
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7. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
 
Feel the dough...if it is still sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon or two at a time, mixing on medium after each addition, until the dough is only slightly sticky (like the sticky surface of a Post-It Note) and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. 
 
If you added more flour, knead on medium for 1 minute more. Feel the dough. Correct with more flour, if necessary. And, knead 1 minute more if more flour has been added.
NOTE: You may not need a total of 4 1/2 cups flour for the recipe, or you may need slightly more. If you add in too much, correct with drops of water.
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Let the dough rise:
1. Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and turn dough so the top is oiled.
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2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise, in a warm place, for 45-60 minutes, or until almost doubled in bulk.
NOTE: You can use Sarah's Microwave Bread Proofer for faster rising times.
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STEP II: FORM THE PRETZEL SHAPES
1. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat liners. Set aside. 

2. When the dough has doubled, turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut it into 8 equal portions.
NOTE: To divide into evenly sized pieces, weigh the dough, and divide the total by 8. Each piece should weigh 1/8 of the total.
Cut straight down with a bench scraper or sharp knife when cutting; do not tear at the dough when separating.
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2. Working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten a portion of dough to degas it.
Cover the dough you are not working on, loosely with a greased-side down piece of plastic wrap.
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3. Gather the flattened piece of dough into a cylinder, then roll the dough into a 24-inch long rope.  
NOTE: You will not be able to roll the pretzel on a floured work surface because it will just slip around. The surface needs to have a little 'grip' to allow you to form a nice even rope. Before you begin to roll the dough, remove most of the flour from the  work surface directly in front of you with a paper towel, and then roll the rope.
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4. WATCH THIS SHORT MOVIE ON HOW TO SHAPE THE PRETZELS:
 
HOW TO SHAPE THE PRETZELS, STEP-BY-STEP:
A. Form a U shape with the rope of dough, with the bottom of the U facing you.
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b. Cross the rope, then cross it one more time, creating a twist.
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c. With the bottom of the U shape facing you, lift up the left hand side of the end of the rope and press it into the left hand side of where the U curves.
At the same time, lift up the right hand side of the end of the rope and press it into the right side of where the U curves, forming a pretzel shape. 
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d. Place formed pretzel on a silpat lined baking sheet. 
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5. Repeat the above steps with the rest of the dough portions. 
When you are finished forming the pretzels, cover loosely with greased-side down plastic wrap, and place in a cool place, while you quickly prepare the water bath.
You do not intend for them to rise, but just to rest for about 10 minutes while you prepare the water bath. 
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STEP III: BOIL AND BAKE THE PRETZELS
Preheat the oven and quickly prepare the waterbath:
1. Position the oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F
 
2. Put 10 cups of water in a large open pan. Bring the water to a boil under high heat and add 1/2 cup baking soda to the pan.
Adjust the heat so the water bath stays at a rolling boil.
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3. Carefully place the formed pretzel dough, one at a time, into the boiling water/baking soda bath.
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Using a large spoon, baste the top of the pretzel with the water. 
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4. After one minute, remove the pretzel from the water with a slotted spatula, letting the excess water drip back into the pan.
Then place the pretzel on a silpat lined baking sheet. 
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5. Repeat with the remaining formed pretzel dough, one at a time. When one baking sheet is full, brush the tops of each pretzel with egg wash.
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Top the boiled pretzels with the topping of your choice and then bake. Examples: 
SALTED SOFT PRETZELS  
NOTE: Salted soft pretzels are a delight.
However, salted pretzels do not store well; if you store salted pretzels, the salt absorbs moisture from the air and melts, leaving you with a soggy pretzel.
So, we recommend two choices how to make them.

OPTION 1. So, just bake the boiled bagel dough with the egg wash only, store them, and salt and re-bake them just before eating: 
a. Pre-bake: Bake pretzels, that have been boiled and egg washed, for 12-14 minutes, or until they are nicely browned.
Remove them from the pan with a spatula and let them cool on a rack. Store them.
 
b. Re-bake with salt: Spray the top of baked pretzel generously with water and sprinkle it with salt. 
Place pretzel in a 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes, or until the water evaporates. Cool and serve.
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OPTION 2. Or, if you want to eat the salted pretzels the day you make them, then:
a. Sprinkle boiled and egg washed pretzel dough with salt; and,
b. Bake pretzels for 12-14 minutes, or until they are nicely browned; and, 
c. Remove them from the pan with a spatula and let them cool on a rack. Cool and serve
 
ASIAGO CHEESE SOFT PRETZELS
1. After topping each boiled pretzel dough with egg wash, sprinkle some grated asiago cheese on each(I am leaving some plain.) 
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2. Bake pretzels for 12-14 minutes, or until they are nicely browned. 
Remove them from the pan with a spatula and let them cool on a rack. Cool and serve
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CINNAMON-SUGAR SOFT PRETZELS
1. Mix together 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Bake boiled and egg washed pretzel dough for 12-14 minutes, or until they are nicely browned. Remove them from the pan with a spatula and let them cool on a rack. 
3. Brush the top of the baked pretzel with melted butter and sprinkle it with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve.
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STORAGE
Freshly baked pretzels should be consumed within two days for maximum enjoyment.
You may freeze baked pretzels, but I do not recommend freezing salted pretzels. Just freeze plain pretzels and salt them when you want to eat them.
 
Salted Soft Pretzels:
pretzels1
 
Asiago Cheese Soft Pretzels:
pretzels2
 
Cinnamon-Sugar Soft Pretzels:
pretzels3

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