MAKING PRETZELS - Marilyn Armstrong
We like pretzels. One of the things I really miss is fresh warm pretzels, the kind we used to buy at the old mall in Auburn. I don’t know if the mall is open or will open. It was barely functioning before the COVID-19 shutdown. It’s an aging mall in a bad location, not convenient to any major road. Very hard to find, even when you’ve been there often.
Their two lead stores were Macy’s and Sears and I’m not sure either of those will survive because both are currently in bankruptcy. What they had going for them was a kiosk where you could always get a new watch battery, a LensCrafters, plus another kiosk where they made warm pretzels while you waited. Oh so good.
I wanted pretzels and as it happened, I came across a recipe on a CBS site.
This is the recipe:
Homemade Soft Pretzel Ingredients
1-1/2 cups warm (110° to 115° F) water
1 tablespoon white sugar (Too much sugar — use half that amount)
1 package active dry yeast (2 ½ teaspoons)
22 ounces all-purpose flour, about 4 1/2 cups (1 cup = 8 ounces, so how can 4-1/2 cups = 22 ounces?)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (Don’t measure the salt. Just shake it onto the pretzels and don’t be shy about it)
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil or cooking spray (Cooking spray works better)
10 cups water for boiling the pretzels — not part of the recipe
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (for topping) (Kosher salt)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar, and yeast, stirring gently to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
- Add the flour, salt, and butter. Use dough hooks and mix on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Take a big bowl and oil it. You can use an oil spray. There’s no reason to take it out of one bowl, put it in another, then put it into another bowl that you had to clean. Twice the work for no good reason.
Remove the dough, wipe out the bowl and then oil it with a little vegetable oil or cooking spray. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap,
- Cover the bowl and put it in a warm place for about an hour
50 to 55 minutesor until the dough has doubled in size (more or less).
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet.One big cookie sheet is plenty.
- Lightly brush with vegetable oil or lightly coat with cooking spray.
- Bring the water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
- Gently whisk egg yolk and water together and set aside.
- While the water heats up, turn the dough out onto a
lightly oiledfloured work surface. Oil your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Divide into 8pieces, as many as seem reasonable.
- Roll out each piece of dough into a rope about 24” long. (Do whatever you want!)
Make a U-shape with the dough rope, and holding the ends, cross them over each other and press on the bottom of the U to form the shape of a pretzel.
- Place on the prepared cookie pan.
- Lower the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for about 30 seconds each, turning over with a slotted spoon about half-way through. Remove them from the water using a slotted spoon or spider, allowing excess water to drain off. NOTE: I put in three at a time which was fine.
- Brush each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk (I used a small paintbrush) and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes (it took closer to 20 minutes. Just keep an eye on them and you’ll know when they are done.
- Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Despite the years I spent baking, I had forgotten how much work it is. I also forgot what a mess it makes. At least I had the sense to change my clothing before I started By the time I finished, it was obvious what I’d been doing. Though I’ve washed my hands repeatedly, I’ve still got dough under my nails.
I also, since there is no yeast in the stores, I used yeast I’ve had in the fridge since 2009. You wouldn’t think it would work, but it did.
I didn’t try for the classic pretzel shape. By the time I had gotten to that point, I was ready to nap on the kitchen floor. I just made them into a circle then twisted them. I got better at it as I worked.
I boiled the pretzels, baked the pretzels and we ate ALL the pretzels instead of dinner. Junk food makes a great dinner, especially when it’s your own junk food. I have to find a better recipe. Or maybe I just buy some pretzels, assuming someone is selling them.
Why did I pick the hottest day since last July to bake? All I wanted warm, soft pretzels. Desperation drove me.