Soft Buttered Pretzels

This recipe is great on a cold Winter day. I’m probably a week or so late though since the polar vortex in the Midwest and Eastern United States has past. For my peeps in the Midwest; keep this in mind for the next time it gets really cold or you need an activity to keep the kiddos busy. The pretzels are really fun to make, so it’s great to get the kids involved to have a go at shaping the pretzels. Chances are you have all the ingredients already on hand. You will need granulated (active dry) yeast though. An added bonus if it’s really cold is these bake at a pretty high temperature so the house gets nice and toasty. You could also shape these into little 1 inch bits (dip size) and make them for the “Big Game” or a fun party snack served with different types of mustard. The recipe is from Alton Brown and I added an extra step by brushing the pretzels once they come out of the oven with butter; just like the ones you get in the mall. If you like a sweet version, dip the pretzels in cinnamon sugar on both sides. Another alternative is you could sprinkle on some pizza type seasoning, or sprinkle with chopped jalapeno/chopped green chili and shredded cheddar cheese.

Salty Classic or Cinnamon/Sugar Soft Buttery Pretzels

salty version (with kosher salt)

Cinnamon-Sugar (my fave)

Shown: pretzels out of the soda bath and brushed with egg yolk mixture ready for the oven. Note: The pretzels puff up in the soda bath, (and in the oven), (next time I would make the rope a little longer than the recommended 24 ” so it is thinner-say 26 “) to define the shape a bit better

Soft Buttered Pretzels (sweet or salty)

1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.

2. 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 (the dough should make a slapping noise as it hits the side of the bowl and you know it is ready).

3. Remove the dough from the bowl, (it will be sticky and that’s normal). Place it in an oiled large bowl and turn dough over so both sides are oiled. Cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap or wax paper (I like wax paper) and put in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

5. Bring the 10 cups of 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 work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-26 inch rope. (The original recipe says 24 inches, but I think a bit longer would be better). Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and fold down the tails towards you to press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

6. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 at a time, for 30 seconds. (I find it easy to place the pretzel onto a very large spatula; like a pancake turner size and then place into the water- the pretzel will release on it’s own). Remove from the water. 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 (omit the salt for cinnamon sugar version). Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Brush with softened butter while pretzels are still warm. (I find it handy to use the other half of a stick of butter; just peel off a bit of the paper and “brush” over the pretzel).

7. For cinnamon sugar version: omit the salt before baking and after resting for 5 minutes, brush pretzel with butter as above and dip both sides generously into a shallow bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

For 1 inch pretzel bits: bake ~ 10 minutes

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