Monday, February 28, 2011

Soft Pretzels

I love soft pretzels.  In college, my friends and I used to go to a local farmers  market on weekends.  Every Saturday there was a booth run by 3 mennonite women who made the best soft pretzels!  So when I saw  this  Soft Pretzel Mix at Crate & Barrel, I had to get it.

It was pretty easy overall.  The kit included pretzel mix, pretzel salt and yeast.  After melting butter and combining it with water, I added the yeast and stirred until dissolved.  Then I added the pretzel mix and combined it. 

Next came the fun part - kneading the dough!  The instructions suggested lightly oiling your hands.

"What kind of oil?"  I wondered.  "Olive Oil?  Sure!"

So after oiling up my hands, I kneaded the dough for three minutes.  Then I set it in a bowl and covered it with a towel, and left it for a half hour to rise.

In retrospect, I think they wanted me to use a more airtight cover.  Oops - that probably explains why the dough didn't rise very much!

Not much bigger.

After a half hour, I pre-heated the oven to 450 and set about rolling out the pretzels.  I divided the dough into five sections and rolled it into 24-inch long sections.  This.  Took.  Awhile.  The ropes of dough kept falling apart, and it took forever to get them long enough.  I have a newfound respect for the pretzel-makers at Auntie Anne's!

Anyway, eventually I ended up with four conventional pretzels and one twisty-log-pretzel.  I used a "baking soda bath" to make them extra dark - basically I boiled a pot of water and baking soda and dipped each pretzel in it for 30 seconds. 

splish-splash pretzel's taking a bath...

Then I brushed each pretzel with egg yolk...

...and sprinkled them with salt. 

Then it was  time to bake!

bon voyage, little pretzels!

After 12 minutes, the pretzels were a nice golden brown.  And boy, were they delicious!  Really soft and not too salty.  I ate them plain and they were plenty flavorful!

Next time, I think I'd like to try making these from scratch and experiment with other flavors - like cinnamon sugar and jalapeno.  Hmm maybe I need to create a baking "to-do"  list....

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