Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. Huis! Saturday's wine tasting was Riesling, so I made a batch of soft pretzels for the occasion. I have changed my poll response accordingly. This recipe is lifted straight from Alton Brown on The Food Network site, which probably breaks all kinds of fair use laws, but I suspect y'all won't turn me in.
I've always heard that pretzels are difficult to make. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, these are a breeze.
I couldn't find pretzel salt, so I used coarse sea salt instead. It was maybe a little intense for my tastes, but still a serviceable substitute. I also toyed with the idea of using margarita salt, since I think of that as being softer and slightly less salty. But maybe that's just the influence of the tequila. Also, I measured my flour by weight and it came to barely 4 cups. Maybe 4-1/2 sifted? Perhaps related to that, everywhere he says to oil a surface? Oil it. This is sticky dough.
The best thing about these is how intensely buttery they taste, even though there's only 2 ounces of butter in the whole recipe.
* 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 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.
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 for at least 5 minutes before serving.
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