Whew. This recipe is a doozy. (Wonder when I last used the word doozy?)
But it is SO worth it!
I made these a couple months ago, so sadly I have no pictures. I'm planning on making them again for a picnic later this month, so I'll update with pictures. In the meantime, Smitten Kitchen has great pictures here.
If you have any questions with the directions, let me know!
Soft Pretzels (18 regular or 36 miniature pretzels, 2 1/2 - 3 hours total)
2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
3 TB sugar, divided
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt
1. YEAST (10 min): In large bowl, stir together 2 c warm water and 1 TB sugar. Sprinkle with yeast. Let sit for 10 min until yeast is slightly foamy.
2. DOUGH (10 min): Add 1 c flour to yeast and mix until combined. Add salt and 4 c flour, mixing until combined. Beat on med-low until dough pulls away from the bowl, about 1 1/2 min. Add another 1/2 c flour and mix until flour is incorporated into the dough. If dough is still too wet and quite sticky, add another 1/2 c of flour. (A little stickiness is okay) Place dough on floured surface. Knead 10 times or until smooth.
3. RISING (1 hour): Coat sides of a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl and turn dough to coat it with oil. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel. Set in warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
4. DIVIDING (10 min): Preheat oven to 450. Spray 3 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Knead 1-2 times on floured surface. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces for regular sized pretzels or 32 pieces for miniature pretzels. Place dough pieces on plates and cover with plastic wrap.
5. SHAPING (20 min): On unfloured surface, roll one piece of dough at a time to make an approximately 18 inch long strip (regular pretzels) or 10 inch long strip (mini pretzels). Twist into pretzel shape and place on baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining dough pieces. 6-8 regular pretzels will fit on each baking sheet. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 min.
6. POACHING (20 min): Meanwhile, find the largest, shallow pot that you have. Fill with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add 2 TB sugar and 1/4 c baking soda. STEP BACK! The water will foam up and probably make a mess all over your stove. It's okay. Reduce water to a simmer. Transfer 2 regular pretzels or 4 mini pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Set a timer; the pretzels' appearance does not change much, so it is difficult to estimate the time. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels back to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
7. BAKING (15-45 min): Beat egg with 1 TB water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden, about 12-15 min for regular pretzels. (I'm sorry! I can't remember how long the mini ones took. I think it was about 11 min. You should be able to tell by watching them. I baked the pretzels one sheet at a time rather than all 3 sheets at once. This way I could perfect my cooking time.) Cool on wire rack or eat warm. Pretzels are best eaten the same day, but will keep up to 2 days in uncovered container at room temperature. If you cover them, they will get soggy.
*I have not tried halving this recipe. If you try it, halve the Yeast and Dough ingredients, but do NOT halve the Poaching ingredients. Make sense?
*If you want, you can do steps 1-5 at night and then steps 6-7 the next day. If doing this, after forming the pretzels, put them on a baking sheet and cover with oiled (oil side down) plastic warp. They'll rise slowly in the fridge overnight (possibly up to 24 hours). The next day, allow them to get back to room temperature before poaching and baking.
*Martha Stewart has pictures of how she twists her pretzels. However, I didn't twist mine correctly, and they still turned out.
Cost: Storemade: $4 for a box of 8? ,Homemade: $1.04 for 18
Love 'em. Couldn't stop eating 'em. I definitely prefer the miniature pretzels. They are the perfect serving size. The storemade soft pretzels are incomparable to these. Homemade ones are perfect right out of the oven. Soft, warm, and just the right amount of chewiness. They were definitely worth the time and effort! Plus, they only cost about $1!