August 05, 2008

Twist and Shout!

Soft pretzels are an awesome Sunday afternoon “snacktivity” to do with kids of all ages.

The twisting was a little challenging at first, but the shouting obscenities came easy when I added the baking soda to the hot water too quickly and had a 3rd grade baking soda volcano explode all over the stove (and floor, and myself, etc.). The pictures of the mess are entirely too embarrassing to post here, but the pretzels were worth the clean up effort.

The pretzels are great right out of the oven but they also store well in the freezer. The frozen pretzels make a fun accompaniment to a quick weeknight dinner salad.

Soft Pretzels:
1½ cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces butter, melted
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
4½ to 5 cups all-purpose flour

3 quarts water
¾ cup baking soda
2 whole eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour to the bowl and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with a little bit of vegetable oil and add the dough to the bowl, turning to coat it with oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda SLOWLY!!!!!!!

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into about 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring about 18 inches and shape pretzels by shaping each rope into a “U”, crossing the two sides of the “U” over each other and twisting and pressing the ends down on the pretzel.

Boil the pretzels in the water/baking soda solution, 2 at a time for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with the warmed water using a spoon. Remove with a large flat slotted spatula.

Place 4 pretzels on each baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Dip into desired sauces.
To reheat: Place frozen pretzels in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until heated through.