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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Soft Pretzels

While going through a bunch of old magazines, I stumbled across this recipe in Cooking Light for Soft Pretzels. I thought to myself, why not? After all I had some practice making pretzels a few years ago when we went on a trip to the Pennsylvania Amish area. We went up to Lititz, PA one afternoon to see the Wilbur Chocolate Factory - home of the Wilbur Bud. What's a Wilbur Bud? It's the forerunner to the Hershey Kiss and, in my opinion, much better.

While we were driving to Lititz, I looked at a brochure with info on the town and it mentioned the Sturgis Pretzel House, America's first pretzel factory. For $4 ($2 for kids) you can get a little tour of the historic building that was the factory is housed. Included in the tour and the history of the pretzel. Everyone get a piece of practice dough. The tour guide shows you how to roll it out and form a pretzel. We were thinking 'Cool, we get to make our own pretzels!' Wrong, once everyone's pretzels are made, you wad up the dough, toss it into a bucket where it sits for the next tour to come through. Ewww.......used pretzel dough. But the tour was kinda cool. They have brick ovens that cook the real pretzels and, of course, you can buy bags of them after the tour.

So here I am a few years later with this recipe in my hand. A quick scan of the ingredients needed shows that I have everything on hand so off to the kitchen! They were fairly easy to make. The first few came out a little cock-eyed but after that the technique became easier.
I was nervous about the water bath step. I've never tried that before and didn't know it my pretzels would fall apart when they hit the water. To my relief, they didn't and bathed away just like they were supposed to. (Hmm.....maybe I'll try my hand at bagels now that I don't fear the water bath). The recipe makes 12 pretzels which in our household lasted a few days. I stored them in a plastic bag which was a mistake because the salt melts after a few hours in the plastic. Maybe a paper would work better.

Soft Pretzels

1 package dry yeast
1½ tsp sugar
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
3¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided (about 14½ oz)
1 tsp salt
Cooking spray
6 cups water
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp cornmeal
1 tsp water
1 large egg
2 tsp kosher salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 3 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Add enough of remaining flour, 1 tbsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion into an 18” long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4” at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal. Place pretzels on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise only slightly).

Combine 6 cups water and baking soda in a non-aluminum Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer. Gently lower 1 pretzel into simmering water mixture; cook 15 seconds. Turn pretzel with a slotted spatula; cook an additional 15 seconds. Transfer pretzel to a wire rack coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining pretzels.

Place pretzels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Combine 1 tsp water and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Brush a thin layer of egg mixture over pretzels; sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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7 Comments:

Blogger PatL said...

I am VERY impressed!

7:51 PM  
Blogger ScottE. said...

WOW! One of my favorite snacks. I'll have to try this one!

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Ivonne said...

I LOVE soft pretzels!

Well done!

9:53 AM  
Anonymous sher said...

Those look great!! I think you would make some pretty terrific bagels. Go for it. It would be very interesting to see a post on that.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Nerissa said...

very cool! I'd love to give it a shot some time. Are you going to eat them with mustard?

1:23 AM  
Blogger DC Food Blog said...

J has a huge Jones for bready pretzels. A coworker of his brought a bag in from Philly and he's tried to get or make them. These sound like a good approximation.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Glenna said...

I've always wanted to make these--will have to do it this weekend while I have time off. Thanks for the recipe.

2:59 AM  

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