Saturdays are my favorite day for baking because there's no pressure or commitments to keep at certain times. One of my favorite things to bake are soft pretzels. I am a pretzel fiend. I don't know anyone else who has made soft pretzels at home, but that is probably because they don't know how easy it is to make them and how much better the home-made variety taste than the mall kiosk variety. I've tried a number of different recipes and come up with a variation of my own:
1.5 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 packet dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 stick (4oz.) melted butter
2 tsp sea salt
4.25 cups flour
sea salt for sprinklingshredded parmesan or mixed Italian cheeses
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the warm water into your stand mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast. Give it about 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy. Add sugar, melted butter, and salt and mix on low speed. Add flour or let a little helper add flour 1/4 cup at a time until a nice dough forms and pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it into a nice ball. Place in an oiled bowl and turn over to cover with oil. Cover with a damp dish towel or cling wrap and allow to rise in a draft-free place for 50 minutes. I usually stick the bowl in my oven-no drafts in there!
50 minutes later.....
Pre-heat oven to 425. Make sure the bowl with the dough is out of there first! Turn dough out onto oiled surface. Divide into 8 equal parts. Bring 3 quarts water with 3/4 cup baking soda to a boil. In the meantime roll each piece of dough out into a long 24" rope and form into pretzel shape by taking each end and crossing them over each other. Press ends and center to hold together. Lay each pretzel into the boiling water mix for 30 seconds. Remove with a spatula to parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush with egg, sprinkle with sea salt and shredded parmesan (I like to use a parm/romano/asiago blend). Pop in the oven for 16 minutes and....
Voila! Soft pretzels.
Eat as is or dip in cream cheese.
Toddler tip! You can make the pretzel rope and then just chop it into 2" bits before boiling. What you will end up with are baby/kid friendly little pretzel balls. Yum!
When life gives you leftovers...These are really only good the first day, so if you have leftovers you can chop them into bite-sized chunks the following day and toast them in the oven, for crunchy pretzel bites!