Today we are honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Day at my office. Pink Power is in full swing. Last year, for this same occasion, I attempted Homemade Soft Pretzels for the first time and they were a hit. I think we have a new tradition in the making.
First step is to make the dough, which will need to rest for about an hour before the real fun begins. The original recipe by Alton Brown calls for using a stand mixer with the dough attachment. The first time I made these I thought I could get away with not breaking out the mixer….nope, found out real quick that my arm attached to a wooden spoon was no match for dough hooks. If you don’t have a mixer, use your hands to mix and knead until the dough is smooth.
Once the dough is ready, I used my pastry cutter (that is now guaranteed to be used at least once per year) to cut the dough into equal size smaller balls…about 20 for the pretzel size I chose.
Each ball is rolled into a rope and then formed into your shape of choice. Don’t get too consumed with how they look at this point. The dough is very elastic-like and has a mind of it’s own. Rest each pretzel on a parchment lined baking sheet that has been lightly brushed with oil. Once all of the balls have been formed into shape, they are boiled in baking soda & water for about 30 seconds. Poof…this is when they really take shape. Once they’ve all had a dip in the hot tub, brush them with beaten egg/water mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Then it’s into the oven to be baked to a deep golden brown.
For this special occasion I used Himalayan Pink Sea Salt. Just go along with me on this one and pretend these are pink.
Cool them for at least 5 minutes on racks before eating. This will be difficult. The fresh baked bread smell will have them lined up around the cooling racks counting down the minutes.
By request, I made a Cheesy Crab Dip to go with our Homemade Soft Pretzels. Made a basic white sauce, added shredded cheddar, and a good scoop of Cajun Crab Dip from my local seafood counter. Boom Bam…..Yum!
- 1½ cups warm (110 - 115 degrees F) water
- 1 Tbl. sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 22 oz. all-purpose flour, about 4½ cups
- 2 oz. unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil, for pan
- 10 cups water
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbl. water
- Pretzel salt
- 2 Tbl. butter
- 2 Tbl. flour
- 1 cup milk
- 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Garlic & Herb
- 1 cup prepared Cajun crab dip
- Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.
- Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
- Add the flour and melted butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.
- Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 4 -5 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a well oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for 50 - 55 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.
- Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan.
- In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces (or more if making smaller pretzels or pretzel bites).
- Roll each piece into a rope about ½" - ¾" in diameter.
- For a traditional pretzel each rope should be about 24 inches long. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place on the parchment lined sheets.
- Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Then remove from the water using a large flat spatula.
- Return to the baking sheets, brush the to of each with the beaten egg yolk/water mixture and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake until dark golden brown, approximately 12 - 14 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- In a small sauce pan, melt butter over med-low heat, then add flour stirring constantly until bubbly.
- Then add milk and stir until blended and sauce has thickened.
- Remove from heat and add shredded cheddar and cheese wedge and stir to melt.
- Then add crab dip and mix to combine and return to heat to warm through.
- Serve warm.
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