Sunday, July 3, 2011

Large Soft Pretzels

Besides shopping, one of the best things at the mall is walking past Auntie Anne's Pretzels.  I can always tell when I am getting close too, because the aroma of hot, buttery pretzels just lingers about in the air.  Sometimes I have to give into my cravings and stop to pick one up, but it is always difficult to just walk by. 

Not too long ago though, I was having a serious craving for a soft pretzel and didn't want to drive all the way down to the mall.  Instead I decided to try to make my own.  So I immediately got online, looked around and found a recipe.  With so many different recipes out there, I was a little nervous which one to try.  I ended up settling on this one and am glad that I did!  The pretzels turned out great!  I do not even need to look for a different recipe, because this is the one!  I will definitely be making these again.  Although next time, I might try to make little soft pretzel sticks, so be on the look out for another post. 

Large Soft Pretzels
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For the dough:
1 ½ cups warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
about 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For Finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water
Pretzel or kosher salt

In order to make the dough you will need to combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the yeast is dissolved.  Let sit for 1 minute.  Now, gently pour in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough begins to come together.  Switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl (this should take about 5 minutes).  Transfer the dough to a bowl that has been lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

To Bake:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper, spraying them with cooking spray and then placing aside for later use.  Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Working with one ball of dough at a time, roll it out into a 24-inch long rope.  Now, make a U-shape with the rope and while you are holding the ends of the rope cross them over each other twice and onto the bottom of the U-shape, thus providing the pretzel shape.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Gently set the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds.  Remove pretzels from the water with a slotted skimmer and place on prepared baking sheets.  Once all the pretzels had been removed from the water, lightly brush the tops of them with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt.  Bake in preheated oven until the turn a nice golden brown.  This should take about 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack for cooling and then enjoy!

Sources: Annie's Eats; originally from Alton Brown at Food Network


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