Monday, December 21, 2009

Soft Pretzels with Sea Salt & Poppy Seeds

These pretzels are so yummy that we made them twice in one week. We'll be making them again for the whole family in Ohio this Christmas. Can't get enough.

homemade soft pretzels
2 c warm water
3 T sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
5-6 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 T salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 c baking soda
1 large egg
coarse sea salt
poppy seeds

Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let it sit for 10 minutes until it becomes foamy.

Add 5 cups of flour and salt to the yeast mixture, and mix on low speed (still using the dough hook) until it forms a nice dough (usually takes about 10 minutes). If you find that the dough looks wet and too sticky, slowly add in more flour until the dough doesn’t stick to the mixing bowl.

pretzel dough in mixer
Pour oil into a large bowl and use a paper towel to spread it evenly. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides with oil. Cover with saran wrap or a towel, and let it rise until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Set aside.

Once dough has doubled in size, punch dough down (gently). Divide into 12 even portions, and let this rest for 5 minutes – this makes it easier to roll out and shape the pretzels.

Roll each piece of dough into a foot long strip. Allow each strip to rest again and then twist this into the shape of a pretzel and transfer to the baking sheet.

Once all the pretzels are formed, leave to rise on baking sheets for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 2 inches of water, and bring it to the boil. Add baking soda and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer. NOTE: Do not use a Calphalon non-stick pan to do this!! The baking soda will have a chemical reaction and cause the non-stick to boil away leaving you with poisonous pretzels. Yes, we made this mistake once and probably shaved 10 years off our life.

Transfer two pretzels to the water and poach for 1 minute on each side, and then remove with a slotted spoon. Put pretzels back on baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

Beat egg and brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt & poppy seeds.

Bake pretzels until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

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