I decided to continue practicing with yeast. Actually, soft pretzels is something that I make once or twice a year. I would make them more often, but there is a bit of work involved, and of course it’s bread, and I can’t keep bread in the house without eating all of it.
I’ve found this recipe to be tried and true. I’ve never had an unsuccessful batch. I have at times had more unattractive pretzels, but that’s because I didn’t take the time to knead it properly. When working with yeast recipes I sometimes forget if the same rules apply for working yeast dough as it does for working with pie crust or biscuit dough. I know with pie crust dough, if you handle it too much, you can make the crust tough.
This recipe says that it yields 8 pretzels, but I make them smaller and get about 16. Also, I’m never able to find pretzel salt, so I use margarita salt. You can also use kosher salt, but I never have much luck with it. (I tend to over salt). You can also use a butter wash instead of an egg wash. The butter wash produces a nice golden brown color, but the egg wash really gives it that true pretzel flavor. This recipe absolutely screams for mustard (I love Honey Cup), or a melty cheese sauce.
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour , about 4 1/2 cups
- 2 ounces unsalted butter , melted
- Vegetable oil , for pan
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel or margarita salt
Combine the water, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to sit for 5 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. Switch to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then grease the bowl well. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for about 50 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and generously brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan.
Turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work 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 parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
I would spray the parchment with a spray pan coating before putting the boiled pretzels on the sheet pan. The first few times I used this recipe, I was peeling parchment for days, before it occurred to me to spray the paper first. I haven't had a problem since.