It's funny how our lives and priorities change over the course of just a few years. Five years ago, it took a wedding or a funeral to cause us to miss a Georgia Tech home football game. And it had to be a close friend or family member at that (kidding, kind of). This year, we've only gone to one game. We spend our Saturday mornings at Caroline's soccer games and now cuddling with our new baby. And while I do miss seeing our friends and tailgating, I love our family time even more.
Now we watch the games at home in the comfort of our living room, during Caroline's naptime. And I like to make some sort of fun snack to munch on while we watch. While I made ham and cheese stuffed pretzel bites a few years ago, I had not yet tackled classic soft pretzels. They were actually pretty easy and low maintenance. The only "tricky" part was shaping and boiling, but even those steps were pretty easy once you got the hang of it.
These are pretty big pretzels, but I think you could easily make them smaller. Which I will probably do when I make these for a tailgate or party. While huge mall food court pretzels are great, when you have other food in your spread it makes more sense to serve smaller portions.
I followed the recipe as written, but instead of brushing the pretzels with egg wash, I brushed them with butter - both before and after baking. Partly because of Caroline's egg allergy, but mostly because I love the buttery pretzels at the mall. Annie of Annie's Eats has great step-by-step pictures of the shaping process, and she also did some testing on making these ahead and freezing. So if you are interested in that, check out her post.
adapted from Alton Brown, via Annie's Eats
makes 8 large pretzels
For the dough:
- 1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2¼ tsp instant yeast
- 22 oz all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
- 4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil
- cooking spray
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
- kosher (or pretzel) salt
To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and melted butter and mix until the dough just comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 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 saucepan or 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.