A friend of mine went to the 'fancy' grocery store in town and posted a picture of soft pretzels. She got one and showed it with a slathering of mustard. Way to get my juices flowing!
It's 100+stupid degrees here in Austin, TX, this week so I had no intentions of going out to get a pretzel. I also refuse to give the "fancy" store my business so it was up to me.
Before I came to the States, I used to make pretzels just for me. I haven't made them for years. Not one to be beaten by a little thing like heat and memory loss, I dove headfirst into my enormous pile of papers that I call recipes but really are lists of ingredients. FOUND IT!
These aren't authentic but they're delicious and they seriously satisfy my pretzel hankering.
TRACY'S SOFT PRETZELS
In the bowl of the kitchen aid, dump (all together)
3 cups (VERY LOOSELY measured) all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons soft margarine (really, it works better than butter but use it if you have it)
1 cup warm water
Combine with the dough hook and let it knead for you until a very soft, smooth, dough forms. Mine took about 3 minutes.
Look how soft and lovely this dough is:
Put dough back in mixing bowl, see how it cleaned the sides?! Cover it with a damp towel and leave to double, mine took about 40 minutes. Ok already, this is WAY more than doubled. I ran to the UPS store while this was rising. I will wager mine would double in 20 minutes. I must add that my friends think that dough rises faster in my house because of the yeast in the air ? I do bake bread virtually daily so there might be something to that. In a nutshell, this doesn't take long to double.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a ball. Leave the balls under the damp towel while you work.
Roll each ball into a long log, 12-16 inches long maybe? *Connor stepped in to help roll*
Bring the edges up and cross them at the top. Then cross it again. Fold the top down and pinch it to seal. Form them all and cover what you're not using with the towel to stop it from drying out too much.
Ah, rolling and twisting and flipping and sealing.
Bring 5 cups of water to a boil with 5 teaspoons baking soda added (I told you these weren't authentic, I don't have Lye here to cook with) Boil 3 pretzels at a time for 2 minutes, flipping half way through.
boil boil boil
Carefully remove them to a rack to dry for a moment. Salt them with some crushed sea salt! Transfer them to a baking sheet (with a Silpat or greased) and bake at 475 for 12-15 minutes. Just bake them until they are beautiful. I bake mine on the upper third of my oven so the tops get as brown as the bottoms.
Oh, my goodness gracious me, they DO look rather pretzel-ly, don't you think??
They have a beautiful crumb. Look at that pull! They are light and salty and pretzelly! They stretch and are chewy but still soft. The crust is hard and crisp on the bottom but softer on top. I love these. I just had to add the beauty shots:
I spent the next while pulling them apart and dipping their salty, chewy, goodness into plain old mustard. Oh yes, this will do nicely to make me this happy. They might be my new party trick. I may make them sticks next time but pulling apart the twist is sort of addictive.
So, don't get dressed and drive to the fancy grocery store for an overpriced pretzel. Throw some flour in your kitchen aid and make an entire batch for a fraction of that. As I said these aren't the Lye soaked beauties of years ago but they're delicious and have the right flavor and mouth feel.
I'll make them regularly again, thanks fancy grocery store for reminding me.