Sunday, September 22, 2013



Made us some homemade soft pretzels tonight.

Holy crap.

We could eat all 12, right now. At one sitting. Pass the mustard.

Awesome Soft Pretzel Recipe:

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough int he bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
  4. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt (if desired).
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.
Why is the baking soda bath necessary? Old World Germans used to dip their brezels (pretzels) in a solution of sodium hydroxide (lye) and water before baking. Lye is a very strong and caustic alkaline. Because most people aren't comfortable mixing lye and water to make pretzels, baking soda - a much weaker alkaline - is now used in most pretzel recipes. Once the pretzels begin baking, a 'Maillard reaction' occurs. This is a chemical reaction sort of like carmelization, which allows the exterior crust to become a deep, rich brown color. The reaction accelerates in an alkaline environment which is provided by the baking soda bath. The baking soda, and the resulting reaction, is also responsible for the unique taste of the pretzel. Without the baking soda, the pretzel exterior ends up pale/white, and tastes more like bread. This baking soda/lye step is paramount in making a pretzel a pretzel.

(Many thanks to some stranger on for the baking soda explanation, and to for the recipe.)

Also, in case it wasn't obvious: I love pretzels.


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