Hubby and Dudette are pretzel fanatics. They do like the hard kind you can get out of the bag, but for them, the best are the big, soft ones.
When we go anywhere that has the carousel of hot, huge pretzels spinning slowly, they’re drawn to it like moths to a flame. It’s a taste I’ve never acquired. Hard pretzels are just overcooked bread with salt. Big deal.
Because of my flippancy, I don’t put any time into making soft pretzels for my two favorite people. Instead, I head to the store and buy the box of frozen ones, letting the two of them nuke one whenever they have a yen.
But when two of the three magazines I’m going through in a month have recipes for soft pretzels, that just might be a sign. Ok, no, I don’t believe in signs. But seeing the pretzel recipes does remind me of the fact that Dudette and Hubby love them, which is enough to spur me into making some today. At least Hubby will be happy.
First, raise a glass in celebration of quick-rise yeast. I love the stuff.
After you’ve drained your beverage, mix together half the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, minced onion, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Now do you see why Hubby will be happy, but Dudette not so much?
Add the water. The directions call it warm water, putting 120-130 degrees in parentheses. If you’ve always just guessed at what a “warm water” temperature might be by running the water over your hand (I admit I have), try using a thermometer one day. I did for this and it’s not warm water. It’s hot. Leaving your hand under 130 degree water for 30 seconds can cause a burn. That’s how hot the water should be. So, use a thermometer. And don’t listen when “they” say warm. You need hot water.
Combine the flour mixture and the water, then add the remaining flour so a soft dough forms. I ended up needing to add about quarter cup more than 4 cups in order to get a dough that didn’t stick all over everything (including me).
Roll the dough out onto a flat surface that’s been lightly covered in flour and knead it for about 5 minutes. Remember to take off rings and bracelets first though. After kneading, cover it with a towel and let it rest.
Ten minutes later, divide the dough in half. Divide each half in half. Do it twice more until you have 16 blobs that are roughly the same size. Roll them into 15-inch ropes. I found the easiest way to do this was to do the Mr. Miyagi hand healing motion with the dough between your palms. Start in the center and work your way up, letting the rope go down. Then, flip it over and do the same thing in the other direction, starting at the halfway point. It takes a little practice, but it works.
Once the ropes are made, let them rest for another ten minutes. Then twist the ropes into pretzel shapes, put them on a baking sheet, brush with egg wash and bake. After fifteen minutes, rebrush them and sprinkle coarse salt on the pretzels. My advice is to brush one and sprinkle it right away. If you brush all sixteen first, the egg wash will have dried by the time you start sprinkling. That’s what happened to me.
Bake the pretzels for an additional ten minutes and they’re done.
Even though there are over a dozen of these, Hubby says it’s just enough for a tease. He loves them (and he hasn’t even tried them with the salsa con queso dip yet). The heat and spice don’t kick in until after you’ve had a bite or two and aren’t incredibly strong. But they’re there. I even enjoyed a couple. After all, I don’t dislike pretzels, they’re just not all that for me.
Even though these didn’t go through the boiling process to create the chewy outside, they do have a pretty good level of chew to them while still being nice and soft inside. It’s really a great recipe.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I don’t have enough experience with home made pretzels to give an opinion on this. Feel free to chime in with what you think would be a good add.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce) quick-rise yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups warm water (120° to 130°)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salsa con queso dip
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt, minced onion and spices. Add water. Beat just until moistened. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough into 16 equal portions; roll each into a 15-in. rope. Cover and let rest 10 minutes longer.
Twist into pretzel shapes. Place on greased baking sheets; brush with egg. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Brush again with egg; sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake 10-13 minutes longer or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Serve pretzels warm with dip.