Soft Pretzels

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Laurie grew up in Philadelphia, and sometimes she just gets a craving for soft pretzels. While these aren't a perfect match for those that they sell off the street carts in the big east coast cities, these come out tasty enough to meet the need.

You can dip these just about anything. I tend to stick with the traditional mustard or honey mustard, or you could try spreading cream cheese on them. They can even take on a nice Italian flavor by dipping them in an olive oil/balsamic vinegar mix.

Servings:
16
Preparation Time:
1/2 hour total mixing, kneading and shaping, 1 1/2 hour raising. 45 minutes cooking.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Cooking water

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • Topping
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • kosher or pretzel salt
Cooking Instructions
  1. Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water and mix it in. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast. You should see some bubbling an yeast rising to the surface.
  2. Mix in the first cup of flour, then add the salt. Mix in the rest of the flour, 1 cup at a time.
  3. Knead the dough for about 8 minutes, either in a mixer with a dough hook, or by hand on a floured board.
  4. Put it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean damp towel. Put it in a draft free location and let it rise till it has doubled in volume.
  5. Turn the dough out onto your floured board. Lightly punch it down, and form it into a ball. Divide the ball in half, and form each half into smaller balls. Continue dividing the balls until you have 16 small balls.
  6. Now we come to the fun part. start rolling our the dough into long snakes, the way you did as a little kid with Play-Doh. Either rolling it on the board, or between your hands. You want each snake to end up about 20 inches long. I usually work in stages, to let the dough relax. First I go through and make 10 inch long snakes, and once I finish, I go back and the first snake has relaxed enough to easily go to 15 inches, then after another round the go to 20.
  7. Tie your dough snakes into the familiar pretzel shape. and place them on baking sheets. Cover them and let them rest for 20 minutes.
  8. While the pretzel dough rests, preheat your oven to 450 F, and start your water and baking soda mix heating. You want your water at a vigorous simmer, but short of a boil.
  9. Carefully lower the pretzels into the water, one at a time. You only want to cook as many as will fit while allowing room to expand. Simmer for 1 minute, then carefully remove with a slotted spoon or a spider and arrange on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  10. Lightly brush your egg wash on the pretzels and sprinkle on the salt.
  11. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until their crust is a nice shade of brown.
Source:
King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook
Notes
I like to go light on the salt topping, Then if I want them saltier later on, I can give them a light spray of water and sprinkle on some more.