In the past few years, I've had the good fortune to becoming friends with a handful of lovely German women (yay for the Internet!), and, as a result, have become increasingly interested German culture, politics and cuisine. I'm sure my family could do less with me talking about proportional representation in the Bundestag, but they put up with it if I make them Schnitzel, Spätzle, or the all-around favorite, Pretzels (or Brezeln).
Like most yeasted bread products, these need to be kneaded and have time to rise, but if you have the time (and aren't near a German bakery where you can just get them easy-peasy) they're totally worth it. Also, the boiling + bake method that gives pretzels their unique texture it quick and fun to do!
[NB: These are a little underdone in the photos. Proper pretzels should be a more uniform golden brown like the top one in the trio above, but I was in a hurry to get these on the table for supper. Don't try to blog your dinner before you eat it folks. ]
Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
Makes 6 Pretzels (can be doubled)
- 1 cup warm (not hot) water
- 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 packet quick-rise yeast (1/4 oz)
- 3 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold butter, diced into small pieces.
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup lager or pale ale
In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water, yeast and sugar. Let still until mixture becomes foamy. Using a dough whisk or sturdy wooden spoon, add the flour, salt and butter, stirring until the mixture becomes shaggy. It's okay if not all the butter is worked in yet, the kneading will take care of that.
Roll up your sleeves and turn out your dough onto a floured work surface. Vigorously knead your dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. Return the dough to a clean bowl and cover with a damp towel, letting it rise until doubled in size. (You can do this overnight in the fridge, or on a warm spot on your counter).
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all cooking water ingredients in a large pot and set to boil.
Roll out the dough into a long rectangle and cut it into 6 long strips, about an 1" wide each.
Roll/stretch each strip until it forms a coil about 34" long (I measure them by the length between my fingertips and shoulder joint). Form each coil into a "U", twist the tops, and the press the ends down onto the bottom of the U.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment and reduce cooking water to a simmer. Boil pretzels one at a time by lowering it gently into the water with a slotted spoon. Remove the spoon and let pretzel cook for about 30 seconds. The pretzel will float to the top as it cooks. remove pretzel with spoon and place on prepared baking sheet. [NB: The cooking water will form a foam as you cook the pretzels, just scoop it off as needed.]
Sprinkle the pretzels with your salt of choice.
Bake the pretzels for about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Let them get nice and golden brown (see note in post).
Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve warm with mustard and enjoy with the rest of that beer!
Adapted from Olivia's Cuisine
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