We had our own little Oktoberfest celebration this weekend and if I have my way, it will be the way we celebrate the occasion every year from here on after. For that matter, it might be the way I celebrate everything. We made soft pretzels and I am hooked. It's a blessing and a curse when I find something I love so much. A blessing because it's another great recipe to share but if I make these as often as I want, I would turn into one gigantic carb.
This is not by any means one of those quick recipes, but it was quite fun making them and even more fun eating them. If you have a few friends or kids that want to join you in the kitchen, rolling these suckers is a fun little project.
We added some parmesan cheese to a few and cinnamon sugar to a few more.
My friend Kate made two great dips... a worcestire dip and a beer cheese spread.
If this wasn't indulgent enough, after one bite of the cinnamon sugar pretzel, I heard, "this would be even better with some icing"... from another, "oh I think this would be good with some Nutella. Well, what do you know, I had both in the pantry and they made the cinnamon sugar pretzels even better.
This is the perfect weekend project. Warning... make at least two per person or you might start feuds over who gets the goods.
pretzel rollin fun...
Don't be discouraged if your pretzels don't turn out well from the get go. Even the ugly ones taste good... that was my first one, eek.
the baking soda bath... sounds weird, but makes for a great pretzel
Adapted from Alton Brown, Food Network
Some people use pretzel salt and if you want to go all out, feel free. However, I used coarse sea salt and if you don't have it, I would suggest buying it. You will use it way more than you think. Make sure you provide a lot of time for these suckers because you will need to let the dough rise for an hour.
1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water (a meat thermometer comes in handy to test temperature)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
parmesan cheese, shredded
cinnamon and sugar
stand mixer with a dough hook
Step by Step
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Pinch the dough at all places that it intersects tightly so that it will stay together. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula or strainer spoon and return to the baking sheet.
For regular pretzels: Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with coarse salt.
For cinnamon sugar pretzel: Brush with melted butter, dip in sugar and sprinkle cinnamon on top.
For parmesan pretzel: Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese.
Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Serve warm with various dips.