pretzels

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! This weekend I made homemade pretzels as a Valentine’s Day treat for my sweetie, Andrew. He doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth but the man loves salty snacks. I thought these delightfully salty, vaguely heart shaped goodies would be a perfect Valentine’s Day indulgence. But really, homemade pretzels are a great treat no matter what the occasion.

I found an awesome recipe for soft pretzels by Alton Brown of the Food Network. The recipe wasn’t very difficult and the pretzels came out great. The worst part about the whole thing was waiting for the dough to rise.

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • Coarse Sea Salt (for the top of the pretzels)

To make the dough, combine the warm water, kosher salt, and sugar in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. When the yeast begins to foam (about five minutes) add the melted butter and flour and combine.

Alton Brown suggests using a mixer with a bread hook but I just kneaded the dough by hand. I put the bowl in the sink, to cut down on the mess, and used a wooden spoon to mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Once it is well combined, I began kneading the dough by hand. The dough starts out rather sticky but become airy and much less sticky after 4-5 minutes. When the dough reaches this point, set it aside. Clean the bowl, then oil it and return the dough. Cover with plastic and put it in a warm spot to rise. Let it sit for one hour.

pretzel dough

After the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl onto a slightly oiled surface. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F and oil a baking sheet. Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil.

Divide the dough into eight equal chunks. Roll each chunk of dough into 24 inch “snakes.”

rolling out the dough

To fold the dough into a pretzel shape, hold each end of the dough snake and let it hang like a U. Then cross the ends over each other down to the middle of the U.

folding pretzel dough

One at a time, place each pretzel into the boiling water. Let it boil for 30 seconds, then remove from the water using a large spatula. Place it on the oiled sheet pan.

boil the pretzel

Brush the top of the pretzel with the egg yoke/water mixture and sprinkle with coarse salt. If you like a sweeter snack you could sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. You could really top it with anything you like, chopped garlic and rosemary might be a delicious alternative to salt. When adding salt, be careful not to add too much. Some of the salt dissolves into the yoke/water mixture. If you’re trying to have a visible layer of salt, you’ll probably add too much and end up having to scrape most of it off in the end. (I did this. Oops!) Bake for 12-14 minutes until a dark golden brown.

Mmmmmm salty carbs, so good!

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