This months recipe was Soft Pretzels. I have had two recipes I wanted to try for quite some time now and decided to make them the September challenge. I have a recipe for a copycat Auntie Annie Pretzel and a recipe from Alton Brown. I chose the Auntie Annie recipe - mostly to see how close it taste to the real thing. I'll leave Alton's for another day....
Pretzel making was very simple. Starts like any basic bread dough and the only difference is in the shaping. I always envied the little workers behind the glass at Auntie Annie's at the mall and finally tried my hand at pretzel twisting. Let me tell you it is much harder than it looks. You have to get the right amount of velocity for a full twist before the dough falls to the counter (very difficult) and then pinch it together and hope the lopsided pretzel will taste just as good as the perfectly shaped factory style pretzels do. I had grand intentions of making some interesting flavors but I had a slight bit of food poisoning which left me feeling like the original pretzel was just fine. (I also made ice cream and dinner this day too so there was a lot going on in the kitchen).
The Annie pretzel has no fat in the dough - you are supposed to brush them with butter after taking them out of the oven, then apply toppings as liberally as you wish. I decided to make some with salt and some with cinnamon and sugar. The latter was my favorite at the mall when I was little. This method turns out a deliciously greasy pretzel.
The finished product taste a lot like the real deal pretzel - and much better than one from a street vendor (though that strange cheese dip is hard to beat). I'd like to make these again, maybe minis with different toppings. Fun food.
Adapted from Auntie Annie's Pretzel Recipe
1 1/2 C warm water
1 1/8 tsp yeast
1 1/8 tsp salt
2 T brown sugar
1 C bread flour
3 C all purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
2 C warm water
3 T baking soda
Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl. Let proof 5 minutes (water will get foamy as yeast activates). Stir in sugar salt and flour with a fork until well combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic - 5-10 minutes. Oil a large bowl, add dough - coating the surface with oil, cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm area until doubled in size (about 45 minutes). Prepare the dipping water by whisking 2 C water with baking soda until dissolved - a shallow pan works best. Lightly oil a work-surface and cut off little chunks of dough. Roll dough into a 1/2 rope about 24" long. Shape into a pretzel and dip into the baking soda water. Place on a greased baking sheet. Once you have formed all the dough, let the pretzels rise again for 20 minutes or so. Bake for 10 minutes in a 450˚ oven or until they are golden brown. Brush with melted butter (2-4 T) and sprinkle with pretzel salt (or kosher salt) or dip in butter and dip in a cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Thanks to all who participated - be sure to check out the links below or go straight to the Easy Bake cOven to see the rest.