Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Glorious Soft Pretzels

This post was a lot more difficult for me to get up than I thought it would be. I had planned to update on Monday, saying I won't be around much for a week or two (to post or comment on other people's blogs) because we're moving this weekend! But now it's Wednesday night and I really want to sleep and I'm still not done packing and cleaning. I can't wait to be settled into our new place and to have a baking extravaganza in our new kitchen. Anyway onto the pretty pretzels.


I've wanted to make soft pretzels for a really long time but as with many other food things I want to make, I never got around to it. Well I caught part of an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats when he was making pretzels, and I was inspired again! So I made them and they were glorious. Glorious is probably not a word you will often hear with pretzels but they really were. They were so incredibly easy to make - the dough came together beautifully, and after sitting for an hour it rose into this wonderfully soft lovely dough.


And then there's the 30 second boiling in water and baking soda! That was an exciting experience. I thought the pretzels would come apart in the water, but they stayed in tact. The only downside to this was that for me the baking soda water bath caused the baked pretzels to have a weird feeling in my mouth (I'm guessing because baking soda is much more basic than most foods we eat). Other people that tried it didn't have this weird feeling in their mouth as I did, so it might just be me but I don't think so. I think Alton said the reason you boil them is to denature the proteins so that you can get a hard skin (while still maintaining a soft interior). And yes this did happen, though I expected the skin to be harder. I found another recipe (Sherry Yard) that uses sugar, baking soda, beer and water for the boiling liquid so I'll definitely be trying that - hopefully with better results.


There are some weird slashes throughout my pretzels because I didn't punch down the dough before I divided it up, and then I pushed the air out of the dough after I started rolling it (which caused the dough to be flat, and then folded, etc you get the picture). And apparently I don't know how to twist a pretzel! There's supposed to be an extra twist - next time! And now when I'm looking at the pretzel pictures, it looks like the pretzels are hugging themselves with their two little arms. Yes you can tell that I'm tired. But seriously - when you look at food pictures too long you do start to see things like this! Anyway I will definitely be making pretzels again, and I am dying to try the homemade mustard that Alton made in the same episode. I would've made it this time but I didn't have any mustard seeds.

Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Alton Brown

Makes 8 pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
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
Pretzel salt

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 450F. Prepare 2 baking pans with parchment paper or Silpat mats. 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. 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. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

44 comments:

Gigi said...

Seriously, those are some mighty fine looking pretzels! I would kill for one with dollop of mustard. Yummy!

ovenhaven said...

Oh you're after my heart, I'm sure! After that tomato sauce pasta, now soft pretzels? Gorgeous. Or should I say "glorious". Hehe :P

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have never made pretzels and these are calling out my name!
What a nice coincidence, I'm moving next week! Be sure I'll be making these beauties in my brand new kitchen. ;)

rainbowbrown said...

Hooray for you! Pretzels are such fun things to make. They look marvelous. I'm intrigued by the idea of beer in the boiling water, I'll have to look into that.

VeggieGirl said...

Gorgeous pretzels!!

Best of luck with the rest of your unpacking and such - enjoy your new place!! :0)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your pretzels turned out beautifully! What a nice farewell to the old kitchen. Have fun getting into the new place!

Chelle said...

Gorgeous pretzels! And I am going to have to give that mustard a try as well! Yum!

Celine said...

they look smashing.

Erin said...

Your pretzels look beautiful! I really want to try making pretzels- they've been on my list to make for a long time now! Yours look so nicely shaped.

Deborah said...

I've always wanted to make pretzels - and yours look so tasty! Good luck with the move - can't wait to see what you cook up in your new kitchen!

Erin said...

No doubt I would eat that whole batch in one sitting. They look perfect!

kickpleat said...

i made pretzels once as a kid, but i don't think they were very authentic. these look delicious! i'll definitely make some.

Holler said...

These are beautiful and I want that mesh baking thing! I hope you move goes well and you are not too exhausted at the end of it!
Love
Holler

Grace said...

your pretzels look like they've come straight off the production line--perfectly delicious. :)

Hannah said...

Soft pretzels are on my long-term "to make" list, but yours just look so incredible... I want to go try them out right now! Seriously, they look better than anything you would find in a grocery store or mall kiosk too.

pacificoutpost said...

Your pictures make resistance futile ... I must try these recipes for those pretzels will be mine!

Johanna said...

wow these look fantastic - but I also sometimes feel that baking soda gives me a weird taste in my mouth so will try and remember when I try pretzel baking - and this has inspired me to try them

VeganCowGirl said...

Holy moly! Those photos are so beautiful! You have inspired me to give these a try - I admit to never making pretzels before, but when you post such great looking food it is hard not to give it a whirl.

Good luck with settling into your new place.

Andy said...

Those look amazing. Nice job.

Katie said...

Your pretzels are beautiful :) Your photos are always so awesome!

Erica said...

These are gorgeous! Nice work!

Jerri said...

your pretzels look awesome. wish I had one right now.

Natty said...

Those pretzels are so pretty, were they in my possession, I'd feel compelled to shellac one, mount it and hang it on the wall like the antlers of a ten-point buck.

jd said...

Oooo laa laa... I LOVE soft pretzels!

I'm definitely gonna have to make these asap!

Thanks for the great idea - & for the amazing pics :)

homecooked said...

These pretzels look gorgeous! Yummy!

Vicki said...

Ooh, yum, those look delicious! Best success I've had with pretzels was with a recipe from Grant Achatz in Food & Wine a while back. I can't wait to try Alton's recipe and compare!

We Are Never Full said...

this is definitely on my list of things to try and make too. I'm from philly originally so i take my soft pretzels very seriously. these look fabulous, but i want to ask a philly pretzel-maker if they dip theirs in baking soda and boiling water. very interesting!

~Madeline~ said...

I love making pretzels at home. I was weary about the baking soda/boiling water thing too but I didn't get a strange taste. It's a cool tip though.

gkbloodsugar said...

Let me know when the mustard arrives!

d0cchuck said...

I have been anxiously awaiting the numerous upcoming Renaissance Faires . . . where I always enjoy some of the best soft pretzels around.

You make it sound so simple, that I am going to make my own.

Maybe, I will take a couple of pretzels with me to the Maryland faire, and save a few bucks.

Thanks!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, these are delightful! They remind me of when I used to make them with mom when I was a kid. How I loved shaping them and sprinkling them with those big salt crystals.
Good luck with the move!

One Food Guy said...

These are great looking pretzels! Nice job!

Jaime said...

those look wonderful! i've always wanted to try making soft pretzels at home too

Slim dog said...

Yeah a dollop of mustard is all it needs and that is heaven on a plate. I think that they look like the tastiest pretzels I've ever laid eyes on..

bbaking said...

I have always wanted to make these, wow look how gorgeous they are!

Cakespy said...

Exceedingly gorgeous and carb-tastic! I can practically taste them! Yum.

Maria said...

I can't wait to try these! YUM!

jae said...

just found your blog today.
love that first pretzel pic!

Aunt T said...

I was looking for something fun to make with the kids and stumbled upon your great post! Thanks for the info!

Psychgrad said...

Great job on the pretzels. How long do they keep? Can you freeze them after they've been baked?

Kelly said...

Yum. I am planning on making these so I appreciate your review.

Katie said...

Yum! I found your blog while looking for authentic soft pretzel recipes. I moved from Philly to Argentina, and I really miss a good soft pretzel! I'll definitely be trying this out. Great photos!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. I just tried it, and i made 12 pretzels. Did anyone else find it REALLY hard to roll the dough into thin strings? I guess i wasn't expecting that to take me a half an hour.

They're baking now :) and they look divine so I think it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

OMG THESE PRETZELS LOOK HEAVENLY I LIVE IN THE BIG O AND WE HAVE THIS JOINT CALLED AUNT ANNIES PRETZELS ITS THE BEST PRETZEL PLACE IN THE BIG O SAVE ME A PRETZIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!