In a Twist
Today, on television, I saw a man selling hot, soft pretzels. Which, of course, made me want a hot, soft pretzel. I love the chewy outside of a good soft pretzel and the almost creamy texture of the inside.
So I made some. They're so good, and surprisingly easy to make. Don't let the thought of yeast dough intimidate you--this recipe could not be easier. There's no need to proof the yeast, and very little rising time. If you use a stand mixer, there's no kneading, either. If you are kneading by hand, increase the kneading time to 7 minutes. One batch of these amazing treats should take you an hour and fifteen minutes to make, start to finish.
Makes 8 very large pretzels
2 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast
1 cup very warm water
Flour for dusting
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons baking soda
kosher salt or pretzel salt for sprinkling
Put flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Mix in the very warm water, reserving 2 tablespoons. Mix until a soft, elastic dough forms. If dough seems dry, add water a teaspoon at a time until you get a soft, stretchy dough. The dough will be sticky but smooth. Knead for 5 minutes in stand mixer or, 7 minutes by hand on a lightly floured surface with floured-dusted hands. Re-dust dough with flour and place into bowl. Cover. Allow to rest for 30 minutes. While the dough is resting....
Mix baking soda into boiling water. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved. Pour the baking soda solution into a 9 inch square pan. Allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
When the dough is finished resting, divide into 8 equal parts by cutting in half with a sharp knife, then cutting each half in half, and then cutting each piece in half again. On a lightly greased surface (like a clean countertop) roll each chunk of dough into a thin rope about 24" inches long. To make the pretzel twist, lift both ends of the dough up, leaving about 6 inches of the center of the rope on the counter. Cross the ends twice into a pretty double twist, then lay the ends back down onto the preztel. With a wide spatula, put the formed pretzels into the soda bath. You should be able to fit 4 into the pan at once. Spoon the soda water over the pretzels. Allow to sit in the bath for a couple of minutes. This is what gives the pretzel crust its deep brown color and chewiness. Remove the pretzels from the bath onto a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each pretzel with kosher salt.
Bake for 10 minutes or until deep brown. Serve hot with spicy mustard, or brush with melted butter while still hot. Or both.