Kelly the Culinarian: Cooking with Kelly: Soft pretzels

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cooking with Kelly: Soft pretzels

Tonight I'll be going to my alma mater, Libertyville High School, to watch my sister perform in the award-winning band. There's a football game going on too, they tell me.

I decided to make a little picnic of various stadium foods for my family and friends to enjoy during the game. I love soft pretzels and decided to try my hand at them. They ended up not looking all that pretzel-like, but they taste divine.

So here's what you need for this concoction:

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package active yeast

22 ounces flour (a little less than 4 1/2 cups)

2 ounces unsalted butter (half of a stick)

10 cups water

2/3 cups baking soda

1 egg beaten with about 1 tablespoon of water

Pretzel salt

* The slide show cycles through the numbered steps*

It's a pretty standard recipe using items that can be found in most pantries. (1) First, put water, sugar and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer, then sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to sit until it foams. It will take three to five minutes, depending on how warm or drafty your kitchen is.

(2) Then add the butter followed by the flour a half-cup at a time. Make sure you're using a bread hook attachment and mix on low until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Then kick it up to medium speed for a couple of minutes until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the bowl.

(3) Then place in a greased bowl, cover it with cling wrap and allow to sit in a corner of your kitchen for about an hour, or until the dough doubles in size.

Heat your oven to 450 and prepare a couple of baking sheets lined with parchment or foil that you lightly oiled or sprayed with cooking oil. Mix the water and baking soda in a pan and place on the stove so you have a little assembly line going.

Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface (I just threw flour on my parents' lovely counter tops). Divide the dough into eight pieces. Working with one section, form the dough into a rope about two feet long.

(4) Make it into a "U" shape and pinch the opposite ends to form a (5) classic pretzel shape.

(6) Next, bring the water/soda combination to a boil on the stove and place each pretzels in one at a time for 30 seconds each, flipping halfway through so both sides get boiled. This isn't meant to cook the pretzels, just to change the surface chemistry so it will brown evenly.

(7) After that, place four pretzels on each cookie sheet and brush with some of the egg and sprinkle with salt (the egg gives the salt something to stick to).

This recipe taught me the value of a quality stand mixer. One day, I'll have a Kitchenaid, but until I have $250 to order it, I'll use the hand-me-down from my grandma's kitchen. It's really important to oil the bowl and the baking sheets and be careful with how much salt you put on it. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown. (8) Let cool for a couple of minutes to allow for carry-over cooking.

As far as storage, I'm just placing these in brown paper bags until the game this evening. Food storage containers or zip-top bags are a bag idea because they trap the moisture and make the pretzels soggy and gooey (gross).

I like my pretzels plain so I can enjoy the salty, carb-alicious flavor, but my neighbor is bringing some homemade mustard for her portion. I'll try my best to get the family recipe, but just in case, here's another recipe to keep you busy.

I'm off to the game!


Cynthia said...

And that's all they will focus on - the taste. Have a good time.

East Meets West Kitchen said...

Great step-by-step pictures, and your pretzel looks yummy. Going to try your recipe soon.

amna said...

I love pretzels.. this pic makes me want to get to my breakfast quicker :D

daphne said...

hehe. I'm with you on the Kitchenaid thing. ONE day, I will have one as well.

I think u did every well with this, it looks really good!!!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Well, your pretzels surely look unusual! But it is taste that counts!

Zach said...

The egg is more than an adhesive for the salt. It also gives the top a shine (the albumen) and some more "golden" color (the yolk). Since pretzel dough gets pretty brown on its own you probably could have just used egg white for the shine.

Unknown said...

I will definately have to try theses. Love the slide show!

ZoeyBella said...

I always love soft pretzels. Thanks for the tips! :)

Sylvia said...

The important is not the shape,but the taste, I love pretzel and maybe I try your well explained recipe

tigerfish said...

That's so much work. Good job!

Retno Prihadana said...

Nice step by step recipe Kelly, Thanks.