If you don't already think I'm more than a little crazy when it comes to food, I think I'm about to convince you otherwise. If you're not convinced I need help after this post, well then maybe we should be friends.
I found the best soft pretzel recipe in the world. Just stumbled upon it one day about 2 weeks ago. I promise it has nothing to do with my being obsessed with Alton Brown or my impulse to try every recipe the man puts his name on, buy all his books, or tackle him at a book signing while sobbing and screaming "OMG I'm your biggest fan, teach me everything you know!". Nothing like that. I was casually scanning the internet for shoes like a normal 25 year old female. I swear.
Anyway, I found this pretzel recipe. It's so...to die for. The pretzels are like little pillows of delicious salty, buttery perfection. Pretzel pillows that can be twisted or cut into many different shapes, used in so many different ways, and dipped into cheese. They put every other soft pretzel I've eaten in Philadelphia, the city of soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, to shame. Step it up Philly, A.Brown is putting you to shame.
And this is the part where you're going to think I'm crazy. I've made 4 batches of these pretzels since finding the recipe. I'm eating one now. I ate one last night. I'm actually obsessed.
But honestly, soft pretzels are very easy to make. They're so versatile! I made bites, twists, and buns (best egg sandwiches ever). I par baked a whole batch and froze them to be defrosted and fully baked individually in the toaster oven as needed. (Homemade Super Pretzels) Yea, I'm a freak. But it's delicious.
I've tweaked the recipe a bit (I omitted the baking soda and eggwash at the end of A.B's recipe, on account of forgetfulness and someone ate my egg while the dough was rising the first time I was making these. I was so obsessed with the result, I never tried it the original way). I also don't have a stand mixer, so I adapted for hand-kneading the dough.
Soundtrack: (OMG so much fun. Dance and twist.)
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Alton Brown <3
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (1 packet)
4 1/2 c AP flour
2 tbsp butter, melted, but room temperature
~ 5 quarts water
more kosher salt to top the pretzels
In a large bowl, combine the warm water, sugar and salt. Sprinkle the yeast over top and then stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside for ~5 minutes. When you return to the bowl, it should look very different. It will be foamy and frothy and have the distinct smell of yeast (basically smells like fresh bread!).
Add the flour and butter and stir until dough comes together. Remove dough to a clean, lightly floured surface. Knead, adding more flour as needed (if the dough gets too sticky, add a sprinkle of more flour) for about 8-10 minutes. Dough will be very slightly sticky and smooth when it's ready to rise. Shape dough into a ball.
Grease a shallow bowl with a tbsp of vegetable oil. Place dough in the bowl and turn to coat and cover the bowl lightly in plastic wrap (don't seal!). Place the dough in an OFF oven to rise for 1 hour.
After dough has doubled in size, remove from oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring ~5 quarts of water to a boil on the stove and prepare 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with pan spray to ensure that the wet pretzels don't stick. Have kosher salt ready.
Remove dough from bowl and place on a clean, lightly oiled surface (not floured). To make pretzel twists, roll out 1/8 of the dough into a 24-inch rope and bring the ends together. Cross the ends, with the middle of the rope still on the surface, and bring them to meet the center of the rope with about 1 inch in between them. To make bites, roll out dough into 5-6 thicker ropes, then cut into bite sized pieces.
No matter what shape you choose, drop each piece into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to prepared sheet pan and top with salt. Bake 15-20 minutes or until pretzels begin to brown.
To make a batch to freeze: Bake for 10 minutes, allow to cool and pack into ziploc bags with as much air removed as possible. Freeze for 2-3 weeks. To eat, remove pretzel from bag and place in preheated (425 degrees) oven or toaster oven for ~10 minutes.