Monday, January 6, 2014

Homemade Pretzels / The Never-ending Winter Break

Checking in from the frigid midwest, where the outside air temperature feels like -48 and a cup of boiling water vaporizes in mid-air when thrown out from the back porch. We were supposed to go back to school today - it's the end of winter break - but school was cancelled, and I just got the call that it is cancelled again for tomorrow. And while many of you out there are going cabin-fever-crazy, I am just plain giddy with happiness. I love being home with my boys.

Way back in my stay at home mom days, Finn and I got hooked on an obscure kids program called Hi-5. In a moment of apparent nostalgia, Finn requested it this morning, and I was all too happy to pull out the old DVDs. At some point during some episode there was a reference to soft pretzels, and I couldn't get it out of my head. And that's how Finn and I ended up making soft pretzels this chilly day. And, oh my goodness, if someone had told me years ago how easy it was to make AMAZING soft pretzels at home, I would have jumped on that bandwagon long ago.

So here you go. Whether you are stuck inside or just can't get the idea of a soft pretzel out of your head now, I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

Homemade Pretzels
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Makes 10-12 large pretzels


1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 packet active yeast (2 1/5 tsp.)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3-5 cups flour (I used half white, half whole wheat)
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot, bring 9 cups of water and 2/3 cup of baking soda to a boil.
  3. Dissolve yeast in warm water in bowl of stand mixer. Stir with a spoon until fairly mixed. Add salt and sugar. Stir until fairly combined. 
  4. Attach dough hook and turn mixer on low. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix on low until dough is thick. Add additional dough (up to one cup) until dough is no longer sticky.
  5. Turn up mixer and knead with dough hook for 3-5 minutes, until it forms a soft, supple ball.
  6. Turn the dough onto the counter. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into chunks, about 1/3 cup each (bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball).
  7. Roll each chunk into a rope with an even diameter. Once you have a long rope, take the ends and twist them together, then bring them to the middle. Press firmly.
  8. Using a slotted spoon, dunk each pretzel, one by one, into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate. Once cool enough to handle, dip into beaten egg (both sides). Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Repeat for each pretzel.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Turn oven to broil and bake for 5 more minutes to brown the tops. Watch closely to avoid burning.
  10. Enjoy!

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