It’s fitting that my first post about food should be about pretzels? Why? Because every time I make them I get requests to make them in bulk. Plus pretzels are highly customizable and a great snack food.
First thing is first, pretzels come in so many different varieties. There’s the super chewy and dense pretzels that are a deep brown on the outside. You often see these pretzels at sporting events. Then there are soft, airy and chewy pretzels that find themselves littered across American malls. The one I am posting about is a cross between the two – but better. You haven’t had pretzels until you’ve had homemade pretzels. I can guarantee it.
The pretzel recipe I adapted was from Alton Brown. You can find the original recipe here. I made very few but important changes (in my opinion) to the recipe.
Important tips to remember:
1. When mixing the dough, make sure you add enough dough so that it doesn’t stick to sides of your mixer.
2. After you clean out the mixing bowl, pour about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and cover the whole bowl. I usually add the oil and let it roll around the bowl.
3. If you want to have super fluffy pretzels, let it rise longer than the allotted time. It will be super fluffy and not quite pretzel-like though.
4. If you do not have a large quart sauce pan, feel free to use a 4-5quart sauce pan and use 5 cups of boiling water and 1/3 cup of baking soda.
5. If making “mini” pretzels, feel free to divide the dough into 16 pieces instead of 8. I do this ALL the time.
6. I modified the recipe to make the pretzels a cross between the typical mall pretzel and the authentic bavarian type. If you prefer more a deeper brown bavarian-type pretzel, then follow the original recipe.
Here’s an illustration of how to assemble the pretzels as well as what a pretzel looks like with toppings:
Without further ado, here is the recipe and directions adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe on FoodNetwork.com:
Homemade Soft Pretzels
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons
4 1/2- 5 cups + all-purpose flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan and bowl
10 cups water (use 5 cups if using a smaller saucepan)
2/3 cup baking soda (use 1/3 cups if using a smaller saucepan)
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon butter (melted and cooled)
Pretzel salt or coarse celtic 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. Feel free to add more flour of dough doesn’t pull away from the side of the bowl. 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 (for a fluffier pretzel, let it rise for about 1.5 hours, though it will be less chewy and more airy).
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-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 an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. If you do not have a large saucepan or roasting pan, use 5 cups of water and 1/3 cup of baking soda in a 4-5 quart saucepan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 (16 if making mini-pretzels) equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch (12-inch for mini) 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 butter mixture and sprinkle with the salt. Feel free to add your own toppings – cheese, scallions, jalapenos, mushrooms, etc. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes (a couple minutes longer if you added any toppings). Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. If you want to freeze and eat later, let them cool down to room temperature and then put them in a freezer bag. When reheating, bake on oven rack for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees (times will vary depending on oven type)