How can anyone turn down a hot, buttery, crispy and chewy pretzel? I know I can't! Making pretzels is fun and creative. My family awaits not so patiently, eyeballing the rising dough and wishing for the soda water to hurry up and boil. The times I have heard "are they finished?" are countless.
The recipe is very basic and I sometimes top with sesame seeds, garlic,salt or if my sweet tooth is screaming I will sprinkle sugar on top. The possibilities are endless.
SOFT PRETZELS: (Adapted from Bobby Flay)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all purpose flour
3 quarts water
3/4 cups baking soda
2 whole eggs beaten, mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in bowl.
Add the salt and flour and combine until dough begins to pull away from sides of bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, knead, work those arm muscles and work out frustrations on the dough. You will have a pretty smooth ball of dough. ( can also use a standing mixer, but this way is much more fun!)
Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape: take the right side and cross over to the left. Cross right to left again and flip up. Boil the pretzels in the water solution, 2 at a time for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with the warmed water using a spoon. Remove with a large flat slotted spatula or a spider. Place 4 pretzels on each baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
Dip into garlic butter sauce, or anything your taste buds have a hankering to taste! (Is hankering a southern term?)