I swear to you I made this blog to start baking less and cooking more. And it's coming up, I promise. I mean it this time.
And guys, I'm starting to feel like I'm getting pretty one-dimensional lately. Lots of pastry shells, cherries, limes, cupcakes, and lemon desserts happening around here. (Am I saying you guys a lot lately or what? I'm starting to sound like Ming, ugh.) I'm gonna get outside of the ol' comfort zone here very soon. But hey! I know they were lemon but those macarons were outside of my comfort zone!
It's getting late. Let's talk pretzels.
After spending a solid 8 hours preparing the loads of different elements for the lime zippies and lemon tarts yesterday, I sat down and felt satisfied and accomplished. For about 15 minutes. That is to say, until I saw a recipe for soft pretzels. It was about midnight and I ran into Benny's office to tell him to buckle up, it was about to be pretzel time. He helped me with the kneading (more so than I thought was necessary, but it turned out to be perfect.), and the shaping, which is a very pleasant little teamwork activity for a couple or you and your kids or your.. in-laws? I don't know.
These were completely and exactly what you want as far as a soft pretzel outcome is concerned. I'm making these again. Forever and ever.
For the sake of... blogging or something, I'm gonna give it to you straight. The dough is from one recipe and the cooking method is from another. Once I made the recipe and left it to proof, I realized that this recipe I was using did not include boiling them in baking soda and water. So I decided the best thing to do would be to abandon that recipe completely and use someone else's plan for the boiling and baking. Benny psyched me out about the baking soda/water mixture - I've seen fight club way too many times for you to tell me that I'm making the beginning stages of lye. No way I can be expected to come anywhere near it after that. So Benny did the boiling as well.
Recipe Soundtrack: "Gustav" by Jon Drake & The Shakes - Make sure to shake your butt around a little while shaping the dough. It's very important.
(I like her method of explaining the recipe too!)
1/2 c warm water and dissolve 1 pkg yeast into it.
Now, add 1/4 c melted butter (cooled)
1 egg yolk (reserve the white)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
stir well, then add flour 1 cup at a time -5 cups total. Knead for 5minutes. (thank you, stand mixer!!!)
Place in an oiled bowl and allow to rise, covered with a damp towel for 1 hr.
Preheat oven to 425°F*-This is the part where I abandoned the recipe and moved onto the Alton Brown Recipe-
Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. (I didn't think this would be important, but Benny convinced me. It was completely necessary and made perfect nicely browned bottoms.) Set aside.
Bring 10 cups of water and 2/3 cup 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-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. (This is tricky because the pretzels want to come apart when you put them in there, so you really need to let them be for 30 seconds.) Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk (from earlier) combined with some water and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. (kosher is fine too, I used unground sea salt from my salt grinder.) Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
I know that you might be tempted to skip the baking soda/water part but it makes an unbelievable difference. We baked a couple without putting them in the water and they were not nearly as good. Plus they don't end up with that awesome pretzel-y taste.
These keep for a day or two but they won't need to keep them that long. Plus they are completely amazing when they're fresh. I mean. amazing.
You can also play around with the toppings. This one is topped with Benny's favorite dutch cheese and some cumin.
And here's a terrible picture of our big ugly log one that was the result of a ruined pretzel shape. Ugly but scrumptious! Yeah, scrumptious.
Next we try pretzel buns! Yeah!
Ok. I'm going to bed now. Ok?