Dear Alton Brown,
Some people say they aren’t enthusiastic about food chemistry, science, or history. Some say they don’t get all that stuff and, frankly, don’t really care. I admit there have been moments during good ‘ol Good Eats that I’ve wandered off. While not all food science is über captivating to me either, I must say that I am a fan of your recipes. I really enjoy most of your recipes. So here’s my shout out!
Take these soft pretzels. Who would have thought I’d gift my friends with homemade pretzels? I mean, these are a treat usually reserved for mall meanderings. Until I stumbled upon this fab recipe.
OK, why not? I am a sucker for carbs. And, I was hosting bake club at my place soon, so I gave it a test run. It was phenomenal. Us Bake Club gals made a bunch of these chewy, dense snacks to dangle in front of our hungry hubbies and kids.
The fun, funner, funnest part about eating soft pretzels is deciding how to eat them. Buttered, salted, plain, spicy mustard, sweet mustard, cheese sauce, parmesan, cinnamon sugar… the possibilities are endless. We devoured our pretzels lightly buttered, with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. My kids stuffed themselves with cinnamon sugared ones. Something for everyone. Mmmmm!
How will you eat your pretzels?
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F)
2 TB white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
3/4 stick regular butter, melted
2/3 cup baking soda, in 10 cups of water
2 egg yolks and 1 TB water, beaten together
Toppings: coarse sea salt, butter, mustard, cheese, cinnamon sugar, parmesan, etc.
Combine first 4 ingredients in large bowl, mixing it in a little. Let sit until mixture (yeast) foams. Add flour and butter. Mix until well combined (can use stand mixer; I mixed by hand). Knead until dough is smooth and no longer sticks to bowl (about 5 min). Put dough into well oiled bowl and turn dough so it is oiled on all surface areas. Cover with damp towel and set in warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. The actual time it takes to double depends, of course, on the temperature. If the room is cool, I set my dough in the oven, with only the light turned on. If you do that, just make sure you remove the dough before preheating oven!
Preheat oven to 450F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and spray with oil.
Bring baking soda/water mixture to a boil in large pan.
Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each one into a 1 1/2 – 2 ft rope. Lightly oil working surface if needed. Making a U-shape with rope, cross the ends over each other and form pretzel shape. Press ends tightly in, so they don’t come apart while baking.
One at a time, carefully lift and place each pretzel into boiling water for just 30 seconds. This gives it that wonderful outer texture. Return to parchment-lined pan. Brush tops of pretzels with egg/water mixture. If desired, sprinkle lightly with coarse salt or your choice of topping. Bake 9-10 min., or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with butter (or not). Cool on rack a few minutes before taking a bite. And another. And…
Source: Chew Out Loud, adapted from Alton Brown