Buttery Soft PretzelsFact: I made these last year. It was my first time. Another fact: I loved them. There are plenty of things I have yet to eat, but I can't believe I was left out in the dark for so long. Seriously, why didn't anyone tell me throughout the 22 years of my life that homemade pretzels were the best?? I thought I was fairly well experienced with bread products! Apparently not!
I digress. This isn't about me. It's about the pretzels. I love how soft and yeasty they are, even if they require some effort. The process is slightly intimidating but once you get the hang of it, they are totally worth it. I found that boiling the shaped pretzels with a combination of baking soda and water a little tricky, but a slotted spoon works well to remove the pretzels from the water. Annie's Eats has a wonderful tutorial on shaping the pretzels if you're interested or experiencing troubles. Unfortunately, my dough didn't rise as much as the previous pretzels I had made, which makes me believe it's time to replace my yeast. However, they still tasted great-just skinnier than I would have liked!!
Makes 8 large pretzels
For the dough
1 1/2 cups warm water, 110-115° F
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2¼ teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 if needed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast on low speed until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and melted butter, mix until the dough starts to come together. Switch the attachment to a dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, approximately 5 minutes. Lightly grease a large bowl with vegetable oil and transfer the dough to the bowl, turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 50-55 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large stockpot.
Meanwhile, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (a kitchen scale makes this very easy). Working one piece at a time, roll the dough into a 24-inch long rope. Make a U-shape with the dough, and holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape to form a pretzel. Transfer the pretzel to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.
Working 1-2 pretzels at a time, place into the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds, flipping once. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove the pretzels from the water and transfer back to the baking sheet. Repeat with all the pretzels.
Using 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, brush the pretzels with the butter. Sprinkle each pretzel with salt, and bake until they are a dark golden-brown, about 12-14 minutes. Brush with the remaining butter, transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes, and serve.