soft pretzels is a great activity for kids and perfect
for Super Bowl parties.
reason why people bake at home is that they donít need
their baked goods to look like they emerged from a
production line. Or they have made their peace with
inconsistency, considering it a charming trait.
peaceable mind comes in handy when making homemade soft
pretzels. The familiar looped and twisted pattern isnít as
difficult to make as it may look, but thereís no guarantee
that a dozen pretzels will look identical. And really, why
would you want that?
pretzel fanatics like different shapes and thicknesses. A
great pretzel dough actually inspires some artistry, supple
and flexible enough to twist into a variety of designs and
pretzels also come together, start to finish, in about two
hours, making them a perfect "found" activity for
the kids, should your school district appear on the morningís
scroll of closings this time of year. No fancy ingredients
here, so you probably have them on hand.
keys to ensuring pretzel success:
Authentic pretzels poach briefly in a lye bath. You probably
do not have this ingredient on hand. Baking soda is a good
substitute, and you can boost the tang and deep color that
it brings to the crust even more by first baking the baking
soda for about 30 minutes. The ovenís heat causes the soda
to give off water and carbon dioxide, turning the sodium
bicarbonate into a bolder sodium carbonate. (Fortunately,
you donít need to understand why this works to have it
keep pretzels from sticking to the baking sheet ó a risk
when youíre placing a poached, egg-washed dough into high
heat ó we highly recommend using parchment paper, and then
making sure thatís it well-coated with oil or cooking
spray. Donít substitute waxed paper. Silicone baking
sheets are said to work like a dream. Otherwise: parchment
paper, well-oiled. Weíre not kidding.
Use the coarsest salt you can find for the final sprinkle.
Table salt is too fine. Kosher salt is good. Some specialty
cooking stores may carry pretzel salt.
Pretzels are best eaten the day theyíre made; otherwise
the moisture of the bread causes the salt to
that in mind, consider the upcoming Super Bowl on Feb. 1 as
the perfect stage on which to make a splash. Fresh pretzels,
made that morning and rewarmed in a 250-degree oven, will be
pounced on as quickly as a fumble. And with two weeks to
hone your pretzel-shaping skills, you canít lose.
donít aim for too much perfection. Remember: You are a
baker, not a factory.
These are best eaten on the same day, but the dough may be
mixed the night before and refrigerated. Remove dough from
refrigerator at least 30 minutes before shaping pretzels.
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart.
cup baking soda
teaspoons or 1 package instant yeast
tablespoons dark brown sugar
teaspoon cayenne pepper
tablespoons room temperature butter, cut in 8 pieces
water (2 quarts)
tablespoon barley malt syrup or brown sugar
yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
salt for sprinkling
oven to 250 degrees. Spread baking soda on baking sheet and
bake for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
large bowl, whisk together flour, yeast, brown sugar, salt
and cayenne pepper. Stir in butter, then make a well in the
center and add the water. Mix until the dough comes together
in a shaggy mass. Using your hands, gather dough together
and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for
several minutes until it is no longer sticky. Cover with
plastic, and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
dough out onto your work surface and cut into 12 equal
pieces. Roll each piece into an 18-inch rope and set aside.
If the dough seems sticky, flour your hands (not the
counter) and roll. Repeat with remaining pieces.
parchment paper on 2 baking sheets and generously spray or
oven to 425 degrees, and place racks on bottom and upper
third of oven.
each rope of dough, form a U shape and make a twist about 3
inches from the ends. Fold the twisted portion backwards
along center of U to form a pretzel shape, then gently press
ends onto the dough to seal. Transfer to the baking sheet.
After all are shaped, cover each pan with a clean towel and
let rest for 20 minutes.
the pretzels are resting, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil,
then add barley malt syrup or brown sugar, and the baking
soda. Mixture will froth. Stir to dissolve, then reduce heat
to a simmer.
place three pretzels at a time, top side down, into the
water. After 30 seconds, turn pretzels over. After another
30 seconds, lift with a slotted spoon or spatula, tapping to
shed excess water, and return to oiled parchment paper.
Repeat with remaining pretzels.
each pretzel with egg yolk mixture, trying to drip as little
as possible onto the parchment, then sprinkle with coarse
for 7 minutes, then switch pansí position on racks and
bake for another 7 minutes.
pretzels to wire racks. Serve immediately, or keep uncovered
at room temperature for up to 12 hours. Rewarm in a
250-degree oven, if desired.
information per pretzel:
fat 1 g
fiber 1 g
exchanges per serving: 1 1/2 bread/starch, 1/2 fat.