Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Soft Pretzels

The theme of tonight's small group gathering is "cravings." I've wanted to try making homemade pretzels for months. Niels and I don't eat much fast food when we're home, but we have given in to the sweet smells of Auntie Ann's Pretzels. I can't even remember the last time we had one, but that's how long I've wanted to try making them.

Since I double messed up my last attempt with yeast by using hot water with expired yeast (hot water kills yeast--who knew?), we took a family outing to Giant Eagle to get ready for today's experiment.

I used Daniel's playtime to search the web for instructions on how to make the pretzel shape. My recipe was not at all helpful (form rope into pretzel shape--thanks a lot!) I found this very helpful video from, all all places, Auntie Anne's! I even learned some tips not cover explained in my recipe.

So, I combined both to come up with...

de Jong Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110
degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour (note: I used whole wheat, which made the dough harder to work with, I think. Next time, I'll try half and half)
1/2 cup white sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping


• In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or it will kill the yeast. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Yeast just after adding the warm water.

After 10 minutes. I think I was supposed to stir it more.

• In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.

  • Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water.
  • Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or warm, damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Before rising.

After rising. (And after I punched it down!)

• Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
I would do this after the pretzels are formed because by the time I was ready, the water was cool and the soda had separated!

• When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces with a pizza cutter.
I think I was supposed to roll the dough out more, but this worked too.

• Roll each piece into a rope, starting in the middle and working out.

I may have just been really slow, but I had to wet my hands a couple times because the dough got try. It might have been the whole wheat as well. I think Daniel will enjoy helping me do this part in the future. He tried to help today. And Bailey tried to help herself when I was with Daniel!

• Twist into a pretzel shape, by looping the rope in half, twisting twice and fold it over.

1. Make a U shape
Twist it twice. (Imagine twisting a twist tie).

Pull the ends up and push down where the dough intersects.

This took a LONG time!

• Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a clean, dry towel to blot extra liquid before placing on lightly sprayed baking sheet.

• Sprinkle kosher salt on the salted pretzels. (I made 5 salted, 5 cinnamon/sugar and 4 almond)

• Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

• While pretzels are baking, melt ¼ cup butter and prepare sugar/cinnamon mixture and crushed almonds.

• After baking, follow the directions below depending on the type of pretzel.

For salted pretzels: Dip in butter with tongs (one side), and let drip dry before placing on plate.

For cinnamon/sugar: dip entire pretzel in butter, then immerse in sugar mixture to coat. Do both sides.

Almond: butter, then coast in toasted almonds.

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