Monday, July 30, 2012

Love Pretzels

Tomorrow is mine and my husband's two year anniversary.  So, I thought I would be sweet and bake him something delicious.  He loves soft pretzels (who doesn't?) and I had never made them before, so I went for it.  Two words: easy and delicious!  This is the sort of recipe that makes you seem like a rock star in the kitchen, but in reality, anyone could do this.  

I used the Joy of Cooking recipe.  A word of advice:  buy this book.  No matter what your skill level, it is a necessity.  It has absolutely every recipe ever in it (ok, maybe not, but you get what I'm saying) and it breaks everything down for you so you really understand what you are doing and why.

However there are some things about baking that I have found are never in a recipe.  I'm pretty new at baking, and I have made some mistakes.  Like not sifting.  I had no idea when I first started baking that I was supposed to sift my flour!  This is NEVER in a recipe!  So sift your flour.  You will end up using much less of it, which leads to everything being a whole lot lighter and fluffier.

So first you combine 1/2 cup warm water with 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast and let that sit for about 5 minutes.  This is what it should look like once those 5 minutes are up.  If your yeast doesn't look like this, try again.  It should smell yeasty and be foamy and bubbly.  Once again, when I first started baking, I did not know this.  I would have bad yeast and not even know it.  Then I would waste a bunch of time and ingredients.  

Then you add:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted!)
1 1/2 cups bread flour (sifted!)
2 tablespoons melted butter (yes) or margarine (no way)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix this all up.  Then slowly add another 1/2 cup warm water as you continue mixing.  Then you need to knead this for about ten minutes.

Oh and while you are purchasing your copy of the Joy of Cooking, go ahead and splurge on a Kitchen Aid Mixer.  Ok, if you're not a big baker maybe you don't need this, but I am obsessed with mine.  It kneads the dough for you.  Hold on....let me say that again.... IT KNEADS THE DOUGH FOR YOU!  Which is the coolest thing ever.  This was a wedding gift from my brother and his fiance, so no, I did not drop 300 bucks on this myself.  But still.  I would.  It's totally worth it.

After kneading the dough, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat it.  Cover with a cloth or towel and stick in an oven (turned off, of course) and let rise for an hour and a half.  This right here is a super sexy rise.  This is what you want.  I'm always afraid my dough isn't going to rise.  And yes, sometimes it doesn't.  But this is perfect.  Another tip: don't buy off brand yeast.  It's cheaper, but I have found it less reliable.  

 Break the dough into twelve pieces and roll them into balls.  Let them rest for ten minutes.  Then roll them into long cylindrical pieces and twist into a pretzel shape.  Place them on a cookie sheet coated lightly in oil.  Gently press the ends so that they will stay in this shape.

Once you've done this, they need to rise for another 35 minutes.  Mine didn't double in size, though Joy of Cooking said that they should.  After they rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and boil eight cups of water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda in it.  When the water starts to boil, knock it back to a simmer.  Boil the pretzels a few at a time for 30 seconds on each side, then put them back on your greased pan and shake a little (ok, maybe a lot) of course salt on them.  I used kosher salt, cuz that's what I had.  Then bake them for about 15 minutes until they are dark golden brown.  The air is going to smell like hot butter and salt and you will be salivating by the time the pretzels come out.  I promise you, they do not disappoint.

 Look at that!  Not too bad if I do say so myself.  There may not be any when Olie gets home.  Must....Stop....Eating........

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What's next? Ravioli? Bagels? Homemade cheese?