While surfing http://pinterest.com of late, I came across a recipe on making homemade stadium soft pretzels. I decided to try my hand at making these for the first time. Been a long time since I have done any hard-core baking, and I really missed it. I’m not the best chemist in the kitchen, but I can hold my own when it comes to making yummy deserts like “Death by Chocolate” brownies.
Yeast has never been my favorite organism. Just the thought of making these little buggers happy with warm water and just the right amount of sugar to make them do what they are supposed to do does not sound all that wonderful. Even as a biologist, I do not like yeast all that much, because it can be temperamental when conditions are not right for it. When I first attempted, the yeast did not want to rise in the dough. Then it did not want to rise for another two hours. Finally it decided to like me and work with me. The trick to making the yeast bubble before adding the ingredients is to have the bowl already warm or at room temp along with the sugar and water. A few did not turn out be like pretzels, but next time I will be more aware of how to shape them.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (just over 1 packet)
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing and the pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
Coarse sea salt
Combine the 1 1/2 cups of water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Once the yeast is foamy (approximately 3-5 minutes), add the flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and olive oil. Using the dough hook attachment, knead 5-6 minutes, or until the dough forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Savvy Tip: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can knead the dough by hand on a floured surface!
Transfer the dough to a well-greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450F. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.In a large stockpot, bring the rest of the water and baking soda to a boil.
Meanwhile, divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3/4″-thick long rope, curve into a U-shape, then cross the ends over to create the traditional pretzel shape.Boil each pretzel in the water and baking soda for 30 seconds. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the pretzel to the greased cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.Bake at 450F for 13-16 minutes, or until the surface is browned and starts to crackle. Immediately transfer to a cooling rack, and allow to cool at least partially before serving.