How To Make Soft Pretzels!
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There is something very special about a nice big soft pretzel with the twists, salty crust, sesame seeds, Parmesan cheese or cinnamon sugar. They can be eaten as baked, or dipped in dipping sauces or mustard. The best thing about soft pretzels is that you can eat some, and leave the rest for later. All you have to do is heat it up a bit, and they are once again soft and chewy and a delicious treat anytime, anywhere.
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Ingredients

Makes 6 large or 12 small pretzels.
3 1/2 C (1/2 kg) of flour
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. (12 g) salt (sea salt preferably)
1 Tbsp. (12 g) yeast, dissolved in 1 C (237 g) water that's fairly warm but not hot (120°F, 49°C)

The following ingredients are for coating the pretzels before baking (step 7-8):
1 Tbsp. (14 g) baking soda dissolved in 1 C (237 g) boiling water
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl
(Optional) Vegetable Oil see tips...

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Steps
1) - Mix brown sugar, salt, and the yeast and water mixture in a food processor or a large mixing bowl. Add flour and mix until the dough is smooth. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour. If possible, let the dough sit overnight in a plastic container in the fridge. NOTE: the dough will rise overnight by as much as a third, so be sure to use a large enough container!.
2) - Divide the dough into 4, 6 or 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope. If you're working with 12 pieces, make the ropes very thin, a little bigger than a pencil. If you're making 4, you can roll them to about cigar thickness and 36 inches (almost a meter) long.
3) - Shape a single rope into an upside down "U" on your table. Bring the ends together and twist them as shown.
4) - Bring them to the top of the pretzel. Flatten the ends with your fingers and press in the dough to secure, making it look like a pretzel. Place on a greased cookie sheet.
5) - Repeat the previous two steps with the remaining pieces of dough and place them on the cookie sheet, too
6) - Allow the pretzels to raise for 30 minutes -- until they've about doubled in size.
7) -  Brush with the water-soda solution. Or, for a chewier crust, mix 2 Tbsp. (24 g) baking soda with 4 C (1 kg) boiling water and drop the pretzel in there for about the count of 10 and then lift out with a strainer or pancake turner.
8) - Brush the pretzels with the egg and water mixture. This gives the pretzel a nice, shiny glaze. Then sprinkle with toppings like:
• coarse salt (see Tips below)
• garlic and Parmesan cheese
• Cinnamon and sugar
• sesame seeds
9) - Bake in a pre-heated oven 400° to 450° F (225° C) for 10 to 15 minutes or until browned. Carefully remove from the oven and place on a sheet of aluminum foil to cool.
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Alternative Method
Ingredients
1 cup of water
3 1/4 cups of all-purpose-flour
1 Tbsp of sugar (i use brown sugar, but either is fine)1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp of active dry yeast1 ounce of unsalted and melted butter
  (about 2 Tbsps)
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of baking soda
8 more cups of water
1 egg yolk
Pretzel salt

Steps
1) - Using a mixer, mix the water (luke warm), the sugar and the salt (until the two latter are completely dissolved).
2) - Add the yeast and stir softly (get rid of any yeast lumps by pressing them on to the sides of the bowl). Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes in order to get the yeast working (you can tell the yeast is ready when the mixture starts to foam and produce little bubbles).
3) - Add the flour and the butter (make sure you sprinkle the flour over the mixture, as it will be easier to mix than if you add it in a big pile).
4) - Using the dough attachment on the mixer, mix on the lowest speed until it is all neatly combined (until you can't see separate ingredients anywhere).
5) - Now change the speed to medium and let it work the dough until you can see clearly that it pulls off from the bowl (it takes around 5 minutes). If the mixture is still gooey and does not pull off from the bowl, then add a Tbsp of flour at time and keep on steering until the consistency is right (1 Tbsp should do it).
6) - Grease a separate bowl with the oil and put the dough in it. Make sure the bowl is large enough so the dough won't spill over when it rises. Cover it with cling wrap and let it sit somewhere warm for an hour (near the stove, but make sure it does not catch on fire. Or even in the oven, turned off naturally).
7) - After the hour, when the dough is nice and big. Mix the 8 cups of water and the baking soda in a shallow pan. Bring them to a boil and then turn the heat off.
8) - Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C)
9) - Meanwhile, grease a work surface with some oil and place the dough on it (make sure you grease your hands a little as well). Roll the dough into a think rope about the length of your forearm (the length from the tip of your middle finger to your elbow). Divide it into 8 more or less equal size pieces.
10) - Roll out each piece into a thin rope, about as long as your forearm and a half.11Make a u-shape with the rope. Then twist the ends along each other once or twice (whatever is easiest for you). Fold them towards yourself and press each end on to the dough that is forming the base of the u-shape. Make sure these ends are securely pressed or they will loosen later when you drop them in the boiling water.
12) - Place the pretzels on a greased baking sheet (or lined with parchment paper).
13) - Drop each pretzel carefully, one by one, into the boiling water for around 50 seconds (counting), and place them back on the baking sheet.
14) - Mix the egg yolk with 1Tbsp of water and brush each pretzel with this mixture. Sprinkle each one with the pretzel salt (thick salt).
15) - Place in the oven for about 12 minutes. Make sure they are golden brown before taking them out.
16) - Let them cool for about 10 minutes, no more, as they are great to serve warm and fresh. (I put them on a cooling rack to cool, as it helps avoid the bottoms getting a bit soggy from their own steam).
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Tips
Make your own coarse salt by putting rock salt in a coffee grinder and then sieving.
Buy Kosher (Coarse) Salt at any grocery Store.
If you want to freeze, bake until light brown, freeze, and microwave until warm, about 45 sec.
If you want to have a nice greasy pretzel like the ones down at Auntie Anne's, spread some vegetable oil on the pretzel after the egg-glaze dries and before you bake it.
If you don't feel like waiting overnight, the dough will rise in about 2-3 hours if you put it somewhere warm, say, on a sunny, hot porch; or a recently used, slightly warm oven.
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Warning
Do not use too much flour, and do not overcook the pretzels.
Some rock salt contains calcium chloride or other contaminants, be sure you are using food-grade rock salt.
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See Also:
National Soft Pretzel Month


How To Articles:


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Sources and Citations

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