About a week and a half ago, it finally rained in Southern California. And it rained, and rained and rained. We were a little cooped up inside and had to come up with some projects to keep the kids busy (and the TV off!). We made Big's Cat in the Hat outfit for Dr. Seuss Day at school, did some other art, and made homemade pretzels. As soon as I pulled them out of the oven, I immediately began to wonder why I had never done this before!
I love big soft pretzels and they were super easy and delicious. It takes a little time because the dough has to raise, but the process isn't hard and believe me, I had plenty of little hands trying to help. It was fun shaping them and doing all the steps of the process and did I mention that they were delicious?? We just ate them plain with the salt on top but you can also roll them in cinnamon sugar before baking for a sweet version or make a dipping sauce of some sort (spicy cheese?). The only downside (if it even counts as a downside) is they're best right out of the oven or within a few hours. The leftovers weren't good the next day and we tossed them out.
You can either make the big traditional shaped ones or little pretzel bites. I liked the bites and think it would be good to make for a group of kids or with friends to watch football or something. I made my dad a deal that we'll have to get together with some of his home brew and eat pretzels. The recipe will make about 5-6 dozen bites depending on how big you cut the pieces.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
from Two Peas & Their Pod
1.5 cups warm water
2 T light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3 oz. unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
2.5 tsp. kosher salt
4-5 cups all purpose flour
3 quarts water
1/2 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 T cold water
coarse sea salt
Combine the 1.5 cups water, sugar, yeast and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and 4 cups of the flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough is too wet, add more flour 1-2 Tablespoons at a time.
Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a floured flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands. Oil a large bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring the 3 quarts of water to a boil in a pot over high heat and add the baking soda (a wide shallower pot will work better than a narrower deep pot - if you have a stove safe roasting pan, you could use that).
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope (about 20 inches) and shape into pretzels or cut into one inch pieces to make pretzel bites.
Using a slotted spoon, boil the pretzel bites in the baking soda water solution in batches. I would do 2 big pretzels or about 10 bites at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds and remove with the large slotted spoon. Place on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray. Make sure they're not touching and there's a little room - they will rise again in the oven. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove to a rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating.