Friday, April 15, 2011

Soft Pretzels

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Do any of you remember TGIF? The awesome TV show line-up that ABC used to host? When I watched it growing up, it included Step by Step, Family Matters, Full House (or as I used to call it, the Michelle show), Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World....geez, was that good television. Every Friday evening my parents, younger brother and I would sit in front of the TV, laughing and munching on snacks together. We all looked forward to it since the shows were hilarious and entertaining. I'm sure my parents loved the quality family time, and although we enjoyed it too, being able to stay up a little past our bedtime due to watching TV was the highlight for my brother and me.

One of the snacks I remember my mom always making while watching TGIF was soft pretzels. We'd also have popcorn, chips and drinks, but the hot, fresh pretzels were always my favorite. We'd have them with spicy mustard, but lately I've been gravitating towards queso dip. Never had soft pretzels in queso dip? Give it a go. You'll be highly addicted.

I'll admit these pretzels took a little longer than I would have preferred, but they were worth the wait. Boiling them first makes them soft on the inside, and then baking them gives them a nice crust. If you want a little twist, you could top them with cinnamon and sugar instead of salt. I suggest making these on a cold, rainy day when you want a comforting snack and have some free time. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. pretzel salt

Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes.

Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 8 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 24 inches long. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour. Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (Dough will retract as you form the pretzel.)

Transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form 7 more pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.

Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil.

Using both hands, carefully add 3 pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes. Transfer parboiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining 5 pretzels in 2 batches.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet. Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.

Source: Epicurious

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