I really love this recipe, which I've used repeatedly to make pre-baked crusts for Make Your Own Pizza. I keep meaning to post my adaptation to that recipe and method -- I think I even have a draft waiting for me to find the time to add a picture or two!
Anyway, here is yet another variation of that recipe: Pretzels! This dough is low-fuss to make, and the kids enjoy participating. Plus, it's a very "handle-able" dough -- easy to shape, not too sticky -- perfect for eager little hands. And when used for soft pretzels, we discovered this morning, it's just delicious!
This is a four-step process: Making and raising the dough; Forming the pretzels; Boiling, brushing with egg wash and salting; then baking.
Here's how it went down for us:
1. Making and Raising the Dough
- 3/4 c warm milk
- 1/2 c warm water
- 2 T vegetable oil (for pizza, I use olive oil)
- 1 T honey
- 1-1/2 t salt
Whisk together in a large bowl, then sprinkle with
- 1 (1/4 oz) pkg active, dry yeast
Stir in the yeast to moisten completely, then set aside. Meanwhile, measure out and sift into a separate bowl
- 3-1/2 c all-purpose flour
Sprinkle about 2/3 of the flour into the yeast mixture, and stir until smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a dough ball you can handle. Knead the dough, adding additional flour as needed, for 6-8 minutes.
Grease the empty flour bowl with more vegetable oil (2-3 t should be plenty -- again, for pizza I"d use olive oil. But I'll get to that in another post, I promise!) Place the dough ball in the greased bowl, and turn once to grease the top of the ball. Cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap, then cover the bowl completely with a clean dish towel. Set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour.
Now is the time to prepare for step 3 (boiling): In a large stock pot, place
- 10 c water
- 2/3 c baking soda
and set it on the stove to boil. This will take a long time (15-20 minutes or more), so you'll be glad you started it now! :) (If it comes to boil too early, set it on simmer and cover. Then bring it back to a full, rolling boil when you start forming the pretzels.)
2. Forming the Pretzels
Prepare the baking pans: Line 2 flat cookie sheets with parchment, and spray lightly with vegetable oil. Set on or very near the surface where you will be forming the pretzels. At this point you should also preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a dough scraper or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 equal wedges, directly in the bowl. Each wedge will make one large pretzel (the equivalent of about 2 slices of bread).
Take one wedge, and roll it into a rope of at least 24" in length. Lay it in front of you in the shape of a large "U." Take the two ends and cross them about 1/2-way down; then twist the crossover one more time. Bring the ends toward the bottom of the "U" and set them on it to make a traditional pretzel shape. Place on one of the baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for 3 more pretzels without touching!
3. Boiling, Brushing with Egg Wash and Salting the Dough
This step should not be skipped! It adds flavor and texture to the pretzel -- and, except for the fact that it takes next to forever to bring 10 cups of baking soda water to a full, rolling boil -- it's very simple and quick. (It also stops the dough from continuing to rise and helps the pretzels hold their shape.)
Place 1 or two pretzels at a time into the aforementioned fully-boiling water, and boil for 30 seconds on each side. Lift out carefully with a wide, slotted pancake turner (a spoon may cause your hard work to fall apart, so use something flat!), and return to the parchment-covered baking pan. Continue until all 8 pretzels have been dunked.
Next whisk together
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 T water
and thoroughly paint the surface of each pretzel with a pastry brush. Then sprinkle each pretzel with
- Kosher Salt or Pretzel Salt
to taste. You may wish to lightly press the salt into the dough, but it may not be necessary.
Place the prepared pretzels into the hot oven, and bake until a deep golden brown -- 14 minutes seems to do the trick. Cool for several minutes on a wire rack before serving.
It is remarkable to me how different this tastes from the results when we use this dough for pizza! Just delicious, and perfect for soft pretzels. You're gonna love it!
Add a few cheese cubes, some fruit & veggies and a glass of milk, and you've got the perfect Lenten lunch. Mmmm!