i was feeling a bit scrooge-like this weekend for not baking any christmas cookies. rather than make red and green cookies i decided to try something i have always wanted to do but have never gotten around to ... soft pretzels. that would be my christmas baking.
i remembered bookmarking a recipe on smitten kitchen that looked amazing. i always trust the recipes on Deb's site. any time i plan on making something intricate or complicated i go there to see if/how she has done it. once again - a perfect recipe from Deb!
i am a bit at a loss for words to describe these little chubby soft pretzels. amazing ... wonderful ... perfect ...heavenly ... they all kind of work but don't quite encompass how completely ridiculous these little guys are. yea they take some time and love but my god are they astonishing! the outside gets crispy and brown and the inside is perfectly chewy. i will never be able to eat another ball park pretzel again. these are in a whole other league.
am i pouring it on too thick? i really do not know any other way to convey the perfection. you will need to make them yourself to truly understand my undying love.
i hope you and yours have the most wonderful holiday - cheers!soft pretzels
from smitten kitchen
Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature
2 cups warm water (100Â°F to 110Â°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt (I used coarse sea salt)
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. (at this point i had to add 2 tablespoons of water - my house must be dry) If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.
3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works. i used a sil-pat). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.
5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you. I would agree with Deb on this] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot (I used a dutch oven) with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet (I used a drying rack with a towel underneath - then once they were dry I put them on the baking sheets). Continue until all pretzels are poached.
7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.
Serve with mustard - delicious!
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