August 23, 2013 by jenniebean10
Oddly enough, I have fond memories of SuperPretzels. When I was younger, there was usually a box of SuperPretzels in the freezer, and on special occasions, my dad would put some in the toaster oven for my brother and me. I’m not exactly sure why it was so exciting to have a previously frozen pretzel that my dad stuck in the toaster oven. Maybe it was the pretzel salt! Maybe soft pretzels are just AWESOME! I don’t know. A while back, I went to a Caps game and paid $4.75 for a craptastic dry-as-a-bone SuperPretzel at Verizon Center. It turned to pretzel-dust in my mouth. I was more than disappointed. I didn’t even finish that nasty pretzel, it was so gross. Shoulda gone with the cotton candy, smh.
My favorite bar in Claremont, called The Back Abbey, serves delicious soft pretzels. I associate this bar + soft pretzels + lots of other things with one of my best friends, Elaine. She had been making pretzels and was telling me all about her success with them, so this gave me the boost of confidence that I needed to embark on my pretzel journey. In the late, wet part of winter, I missed both California and Back Abbey soft pretzels, and got the urge to attempt pretzels of my own. If you’re ever in Claremont, Back Abbey is so good. They have french fries fried in duck fat WAT. They also have Kwak and Tripel Karmeliet and Scaldis Blonde and OMG such great beers on tap. BRB, I need to book a plane ticket to LA…
I think that when I was younger, my parents took me to a pretzel factory and I got a chance to twist pretzels. We didn’t get to bake our pretzels, though – they just kept reusing the dough to let little kids play around with twisting them. I can’t remember where this was. I feel like it was near Lebanon, PA. Gross. Enough of this side note and moving on…
Pretzels are cool, but pretty involved. You have to boil them before you bake them, and you do so in a solution of baking soda, sugar, and water. Did you know that? I think I did at one point, but I forgot until I decided to make them myself. Some recipes suggest using lye (FOR REALZ! Elaine told me this), but I don’t have that on hand. When I made these pretzels, I was reading in other recipes that you can spray them with water during the baking process, and this will produce an even nicer golden brown sheen. I did this, and holy hell my smoke alarm didn’t like the steam it created. Totally worth it, though. My smoke alarms are very sensitive and after this baking project, I went and got stretchy plastic bowl covers (like shower caps, but for your BOWLS!) from the dollar store to put over my smoke detectors when I bake. I figure if there’s actually a fire, these will melt and then my smoke alarms will work. Shhh, don’t tell my landlady…
adapted from Sophisticated Gourmet
yield: 15 medium pretzels
2 ¼ t. (¼ oz; 1 envelope) active dry yeast
⅛ t. fine grain sea salt
2 t. (8g) granulated sugar
1 c. (236mL) warm water (100º to 110ºF)
1 c. (128g) bread flour
2 c. (256g) all-purpose flour
2 T. butter, softened
Vegetable oil, for bowl and baking sheets
¼ cup (72 grams) baking soda
1 ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
1 T. pretzel salt / course grain sea salt
1 egg, beaten
1 t. water
Proof your yeast: Mix yeast, sea salt, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Place flour in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Slowly pour yeast mixture over flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon or your hands to combine. Gather dough together with your hands, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is no longer sticky (about 5 min).
Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. (You can let dough rest in the fridge overnight as well.)
Cut dough into 15 (or however many you desire) equal pieces, and roll each into an 18-inch rope. Form a U shape with 1 rope, and twist ends together twice. Fold twisted portions backward along center of U shape to form a circle, then gently press ends of rope onto dough to seal. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet. Let rise for 20 minutes. (See pictures here for how to twist a pretzel.)
Preheat oven to 475ºF.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add baking soda and 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar. Boil pretzels in batches until puffed and slightly shiny, about 30 seconds a side. Transfer to wire racks to drain. Place pretzels on an oiled baking sheet. Mix the 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl. Brush each pretzel with your egg wash. Sprinkle with the pretzel salt or course grain sea salt.
Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. For extra golden-brown goodness, get a spray bottle with water and spray the pretzels about halfway through the bake time. Pretzels will keep, uncovered, at room temperature for up to 12 hours (unless you eat them all first).
Re-heat in a 250°F oven if desired and toast the pretzels.
FACT: Pretzels go really well with mustard (dijon, cherry honey mustard, spicy, etc.)! And beer. Mmmm…