Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Soft Pretzels

Today I made these to scare some of the chill from our house, but since I haven't made them since long before our move, I only just realized that I may have accidentally discarded my usual recipe for them as I sorted through cookbooks. Oops! This recipe sounds similar, so I gave it a whirl. We gobble up salty, soft pretzels like nobody's business, and I bet eating these will remind John that I haven't made bagels in about as long a time. (Let's hope that recipe hasn't been thrown out.)

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour (may use regular flour; just add 4 tsp. wheat gluten to make a full cup)

4 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda

one egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
coarse salt, sesame seeds, etc.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar, and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Punch dough down and divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape and secure edges, using a bit of water to seal if necessary. Cover pretzels and let rise about 20 minutes, until about doubled in size. Meanwhile, combine 4 cups water and baking soda in a pot and bring to boil. Drop pretzels singly or in pairs into the boiling water and boil for about 30 seconds on each side. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon, drain, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Before baking, brush with the egg/water wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, sesame seeds, or pretzel salt.

Bake in 450 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Best eaten warm and fresh.
If desired, skip the salt, brush with melted butter after baking, and roll in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.
Or, keep the salt, and dip in honey mustard. (We just ate some with honey mustard for breakfast. Mmm.)

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