I love using yeast. It makes me feel magical. How can you not like it? It’s so cool! You mix it up with some warm water and flour and voila! You have bread. You have to add flavor and stuff but that’s beside the point. The point is that you mix up a few ingredients and yeast makes them puffy, beautiful, and delicious.
I must admit, for a while I got super nervous around yeast. It was like a boy I liked but had never talked to before. I was so infatuated, but I didn’t know what to do with it! Dilemma!
But now…now yeast and I are totally a couple. We’re Reast…or Yachel. Something like that. Ignore my odd comments. But for reals: yeast and I are currently having a love affair. That’s why when I was clicking around looking for something new to post on Bakerita I was astonished to realize yeast has gone unmentioned and unused on here. So I decided to post a recipe that I’ve made before and loved: pretzels. Stop spending your money on the ones at the fair, because these are so much better. They’re also the perfect way for you to approach yeast, or to further your relationship with the hot gentleman. Okay, analogy taken too far. I’m done. Let’s move on to pretzels, yeah?
I failed to document this, but in your handy dandy mixer mix together all your ingredients at one time. You may need more flour (I did) as you mix, to make sure your dough becomes soft and supple instead of a sticky mess. When it’s been kneaded about 5 minutes, put it into a greased bowl. Let it rise, covered, for 30 minutes.
Take your dough and get out your kitchen scale. I love mine. It’s magical. Makes me life so perfect and flowery and wonderful. Measure out 8 balls of dough, they should be about 2.5 ounces (70 grams) each. If don’t have a kitchen scale, you eyes will work just wonderfully. Use them peepers! Let them sit for 5 minutes. While they’re resting, make a mixture of 1/2 cup warm water and two Tbsp. baking soda. Mix well and set aside.
When your done making all your rounds and you’ve let them sit for 5 minutes, uncovered, grab one of your balls (awkward…?). Stretch and stretch and stretch. I’ve yet to find a method to this, but I’ve tried spinning it like a jump-rope, pulling, and just smooshing it out with my hands. Anyway you want to do it is perfectly okay with me.
Now’s where you go crazy. You can go traditional and sprinkles with sea salt. You can dip them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. You can make an “Everything Pretzel” and top with the toppings typically found on an everything bagel (caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced onion, and coarse salt). You can make a cheesy, yummy pretzel. Since the recipe makes 8 pretzels, I made two of each. You could put anything you want on these, really. It’s all good. Go crazy.
Stick those puppies in the oven at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes until the tops are browned. While they’re baking, melt 3 Tbsp. of unsalted butter. When you take them out, use a pastry brush to brush the butter on the pretzels. (I buttered the salted, the everything, and the cinnamon sugar but not the cheese. It doesn’t need more grease. After buttering the cinnamon sugar, I dipped in more sugar…yeah. Not very healthy. But oh so good.) Use all the butter! Butter makes everything better. Paula Deen is so right with that.
Soft Pretzels: 4-Ways
Adapted from The Curvy Carrot
For the dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (more if needed. I used about 1/4 cup more than this to make it not sticky.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons regular instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water (Use the greater amount if your dough gets too dry.)
For the topping
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt
1/4 cup mixed cheeses
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon each poppy seeds, carraway seeds, minced dried onion, sesame seeds, and course salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Place all of the dough ingredients into your stand mixer bowl, and beat till well-combined. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes either in the mixer or by hand, till it’s soft, smooth, and quite slack. More flour may be needed to make sure the dough isn’t sticky.
2. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 500°F.
3. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with vegetable oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.
4. After a half hour has elapsed, transfer the dough to a lightly greased or floured work surface, and divide the dough into eight equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
5. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda, and place it in a shallow bowl. Also, if using, combine the seeds in one bowl and the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl. Mix to combine.
6. Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash and place them on the baking sheets.
7. Sprinkle as many as desired lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. If desired, dip some into the cinnamon sugar (the top only should be dipped), sprinkle some with cheese, and sprinkle some with seed mixture.
8. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Bake the pretzels for 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown, reversing the baking sheets halfway through.
9. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Use it all!!! Do not brush cheese pretzels if you made any. After brushing cinnamon sugar pretzel if you made any, recoat them into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Enjoy!