While we’re on things non-meat… I’ve been back on a pretzel-making kick and I’m pretty excited about it. These little doughboys are one of my favorite bready snacks and – as far as breads go – they’re pretty damn easy to whip up.
Flour, water, purple. Wait no… flour, water, yeast. And some sugar and a little bit of salt. I couldn’t find the recipe I used to make these before but I did it from what little memory I could drum up and they turned out pretty good.
Instead of dipping them in lye, like traditional German soft pretzels, you drop them in boiling baking soda water for a minute before baking. It’s pretty similar to making bagels. My guess is that the extra yeasty, pretzel-y flavor comes from the explosive yeast action from the sugar you add at the beginning. Sugar is like fuel for yeast… it eats the sugar and multiplies like millions of microscopic bunnies.
I’m going to make the lye version soon so I can compare…
Super Easy Soft Pretzels
1 cup warm water (not too warm – around 80F is the perfect temperature for yeast)
1 package of active dry yeast
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 cups of flour – bread flour is good but plain white works too
4-6 cups water
3 tbsp baking soda
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt.
1. Warm water and sugar in a small bowl – sprinkle yeast on top to proof. You’re re-hydrating it to activate it since it’s been put on hold in its dried state.
2. After about ten minutes, the yeast should be a little bit bubbly on top of the water and smell nice and yeasty. Pour it into about half of the flour – 1.5 cups – and mix.
3. Add flour a little bit at a time until the dough comes together and then turn it out onto a nicely floured surface.
4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it’s smooth, adding flour as you need to to keep it from sticking to the surface and your hands.
5. Toss it in an oiled bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap for about an hour until it’s doubled in size.
I like to use plastic wrap instead of a damp towel like some people say to because the wrap traps the air in and it seems to make a nice environment for the dough to do its work in. It keeps it warm and humid in the bowl – kindof like a little mini proofing chamber – the little yeasties like that.
6. After the dough has doubled in size, roll it back out on the table and pound it down. Cut it into 8 to 10 pieces and roll them into balls.
7. Roll the balls into snakes and then twist them up into whatever shapes you want.
Stef made some pretty nice twisties. I think this one she’s working on is the “unichorn”.
8. Let them sit and rise again for about a half hour. While they’re rising, put on your pot of boiling baking soda water and preheat your oven to 450F.
9. After the second rise, drop the pretzels one at a time into the boiling soda water. Boil for about 30 seconds on each side then remove and put them on a greased baking sheet or parchment papered sheet.
10. Salt the pretzels while they’re still sticky.
11. Bake until brown – about 10 minutes.