I confess (as I have many times before) that I love carbohydrates. I really have trouble understanding how someone cuts them out their diet completely! I think I would starve if I tired to do that. And I am a firm believer that you can eat everything in moderation, as long as you have a good understanding of what moderation means. =)
I have been wanting to make soft pretzels for a while now because I absolutely love them! They make such a great snack or appetizer for a get together. Soft Pretzels are pretty big here in St. Louis thanks to Gus’s pretzels, a local company that has been making pretzels since (enter year here). I am also a big fan of Aunt Annie’s pretzels (who isn’t?). When I go to the mall with my mom we always have to get a cinnamon sugar pretzel to share. It is seldom that we can resist the temptation.
I think I have always had this preconceived notion that pretzels were a pain to make, hence my lack of trying, However, I learned that they are not too hard to make and the result is absolutely worth the effort. I urge you to try for yourself!
Yields 6 large pretzels
From Food Network Magazine
1 cup milk
1 packet active dry yeast
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt
Warm the milk in a saucepan until it’s about 110 degrees; pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon. Dice 2 tablespoons butter and soften; stir in to the mix. Add the remaining 1 ¼ cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about one hour.
(Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough seems tight, cover and let rest until it relaxes.) Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. (I found this to be the most difficult of the entire process!) Form each rope in a pretzel shape.
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until golden 10-12 minutes.
Melt the remaining tablespoons of butter. Place baked pretzels on a cooling rack and brush the pretzels with the butter. Serve warm!
You know not to judge a book by its cover, and that is what I suggest for these pretzels. Even though they might pass for a Picasso creation, the taste was really spot on. These definitely did not taste like ballpark pretzels, but instead had unexpected flavor and moisture. I thoroughly surprised myself (I love when that happens)! I did have a lot of trouble shaping these, so next time I will definitely be using a “knot” design rather than the traditional pretzel shape. Also, let the dough rest! I skipped that step because I was eager to try shaping, and the dough was practically fighting me.
Let me know how these turn out for you!