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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pretzel Day!

   Today is Pretzel Day. Okay, its also Pumpkin Day and Mince Meat Pie Day, but I am out of pumpkin and mince meat only sets foot in this house around Thanksgiving, and that is still almost a month away.   So let's celebrate pretzels, okay?
   THE best pretzels are, by far, in my humble opinion,  the ones you get at a street vendor in New York City. Warm, soft, salty, and huge. Usually accompanied by the aroma of roasting chestnuts, oh, am I dating myself? I haven't been to the city in so long, I don't even know if they still roast chestnuts on the streets anymore. Come to think of it, do they still have vendors on the streets? Someone will have to bring me up to speed on that, please.
   Anyway, homemade soft pretzels are to die for, also, so in honor of Pretzel Day, I struck out and made some:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
  •  4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • water--enough to half fill a 12 inch skillet
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Coarse salt
  • Non-stick cooking spray, or vegetable oil--your choice

    Combine the water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (I used my Kitchen Aid®) and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for five minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. 
   Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray or grease it with vegetable oil,  cover with  greased plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
   Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray 2 sheet pans with non-stick spray and set aside.
   Bring the water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled  surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.
  Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the  sheet pan.
   Place the pretzels in the boiling water, 1 at a time, each for 30 seconds.

Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Bake @ 450° F until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool a few minutes before eating.
Enjoy! I know I will!

1 comment:

Aunt Barbara said...

I have just tried this recipe again using Baked Soda (sodium bicarbonate 300 degree oven one hour) in place of baking soda. I will post new photos. The aroma is much closer to authentic pretzels than when I used straight baking soda. I am hesitant to try a lye bath, although I could very easily. I just have an affinity to boiling my food in lye, and not washing it off prior to eating it. Yes, yes, you still bake it first, but unless I see it done professionally I hesitate, and we all know my motto: when in doubt, rule it out!

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