As I mentioned in my last post, there is something about winter that makes me crave carbs. I tried my hand at bread, why not try pretzels?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be walking through an airport or a mall and I will smell Auntie M’s Pretzels. The scent is intoxicating. It’s that beautiful combination of honeyed dough with butter and garlic. It instantly makes my tummy rumble, and I need to have it.
There is also something about a pretzel that’s special. I’m not sure if it’s that hard layer on the outside, followed by tender chewiness on the inside or if it’s the slightly sweet, but savory flavor, or a combination of all of these things that make pretzels so yummy, but they just are.
So, I browsed through a few recipes, and it didn’t seem so hard. Like bread, the yeast gets prepped, then flour and the good stuff is added. It takes some time to rise and then it gets shaped. Unlike bread, pretzels get boiled before they are baked. This seemed like a more difficult step, but it wasn’t something that would deter me from making them.
The first part went smoothly. The yeast fizzed into a fragrant potion. However, the next part was a little tougher. No matter how much flour I added, the dough was incredibly sticky. Since I didn’t want to add too much flour, I gave up and plopped it into a covered bowl to rise.
Once risen, the dough was not pasty at all. It didn’t stick to my fingers, as it had done before. I could actually manipulate it simply by hand rolling it into long ropes, which I formed into pretzel shapes.
Then something happened I couldn’t explain or fix no matter what I tried. After forming the pretzel shapes, the dough crept back on itself, leaving me with something more like a pretzel bun than a pretzel. I tried less dough. I tried more. I fought with it and forced it into the shape.
I finally gave up and boiled the pretzel buns, hoping either the water or the stove would fix the problem.
The boiling of the pretzel buns was easier than I had imagined. Once in the pot, the dough toughened and formed a skin. However, it did not expand out into the pretzel shape I desired. Instead, it slightly shrunk in on itself.
The oven didn’t fix the problem either, however it did produce some gorgeous, full-figured pretzel loaves. The pretzels looked like they had been stuffed, they were so poufy.
Once again, I was impatient to try them. I nearly burned my hand on the steaming goodness in front of me.
I paired the pretzel buns with some melted garlic butter and a spicy mustard. The soft, chewiness of the pretzel bun was tastier than I had hoped. They may not look like pretzels, but they were delicious!
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour, plus 4+ tablespoons (see step 3)
- 8 cups of water
- 4 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons melted butter mixed with ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Combine the yeast, milk, and honey in a bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
- Blend in the melted butter and salt. If you are using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment.
- Add flour and mix until blended. If the dough is really sticky, add flour, one tablespoon at a time. (Do not add too much flour – the dough will become less sticky when it rises.)
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and set in a warm place. Let rise for 1 hour, or until it is doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down, re-cover, and let it rise for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper and brush oil on the sheets.
- For each pretzel, remove a fist sized amount of dough and roll it into a long rope. Form the rope into a U-shape, then cross the ends of the dough and attach them to the bottom of the “U” to form a pretzel shape.
- In a large pot, bring water and baking soda to a boil. Place pretzels into the water, one at a time. Let boil for 30 seconds, then flip the pretzel over. Let boil for 30 more seconds and remove. Drain any excess water and place the pretzel onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
- Beat an egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush the pretzels with the mixture. Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Serve with melted garlic butter and mustard.
*Recipe inspired by Real Simple