I never thought making pretzels would be so easy and so much fun. I decided to make them for a German party last weekend and didn't have any idea what to expect. It turned out it was pretty straight forward to make and relatively fast too (there is a 1 hour resting time, but I suppose this could be shortened with quick rising yeast). The pretzels were delicious especially when still warm. My friend had some German sweet mustard that was wonderful with the pretzels. Now that I made my first batch of pretzels, I am thinking about experimenting and making sweet ones (I always loved the cinnamon and sugar ones at the mall...) or perhaps adding raisins to the dough, who knows.
Be sure to salt it well before the pretzels hit the oven otherwise then can come out quite bland in taste.
makes 8 large or 16 small pretzels
You will need:
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
7 grams of active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups of flour
4 tablespoons of butter, melted
2/3 cup of baking soda
egg wash (egg and water beaten together)
salt (I don't have pretzel salt, so I used kosher salt)
Make the dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl if making pretzels by hand), add the sugar, salt, warm water and yeast. Mix well and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it begins to foam. Add the butter and flour and mix (use the dough hook) until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it looks uniform. Turn it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in volume.
When the dough is almost done resting, bring 2 quarts of water along with the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. You will boil the pretzels in it before they go in the oven, so make sure it's a pot large enough to hold one large pretzel at the time. Preheat the oven to high (450 degrees).
Lightly spray two baking sheets and a clean work surface with oil. Turn the dough into the oiled surface and dived it with a sharp knife (8 large ones or 16 small ones). Make a long log by rolling the dough back and forth on the surface with the palms of your hands. For large pretzels, it should be about 24 inches long and 12 inches if making small ones. Shape the pretzels by holding each end, twisting in the middle and attaching the ends to the bottom of the pretzels. Place pretzels in the oiled baking sheet. Carefully place one pretzel at the time in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Do not leave the pretzel in the water for more than 30 seconds or they will start falling apart.
Transfer each pretzel back to the baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle with salt and bake each baking sheet for about 10 minutes, or until pretzels are brown and puffed.
Enjoy warm with some sweet mustard!