My husband is really excited about baseball season starting, so I thought it would be fun to try my hand at baking homemade pretzels.
I love hot pretzels, especially when paired with a good dipping sauce (like the spicy Gruyère and creamy Nutella recipes I've included below). Honestly, what could be better than enjoying a hot pretzel and a cold beer while watching baseball?
Plus, if you like making dough -- mixing it, kneading it, shaping it -- this is a very satisfying recipe to try. The results are fantastic!
Here's how you do it...
HOMEMADE SOFT PRETZELS
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (melted)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or pretzel salt (for topping)
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, and yeast to 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Let the bowl stand about 5 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. It should bubble.
Add the flour and melted butter and mix until completely combined.
If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can mix on low for 5 minutes. Otherwise, drop the dough on a smooth surface and knead for 7-10 minutes (trust me, it's not hard).
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour. The dough should roughly double in size.
After it the dough has risen, preheat the over to 450F and start boiling the 10 cups of water in a large stock pot. Once you have a rolling boil, add the 2/3 cup baking soda. Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat, or very lightly oiled parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into 16 inch ropes. The dough is very elastic, so it will tend to shrink a few inches as soon as you stop rolling it out - that's normal.
To make a traditional pretzel, take the rope and form a 'U' shape. Twist the ends twice, then fold them back down onto the base of the 'U'.
To make pretzel bites, take the 16" ropes and cut into 2" sections.
For the traditional pretzels, lower them carefully into the boiling water with a spatula. They will sink initially, but float up to the surface after 15-20 seconds. Let them boil for about 45 seconds then lift them out with a spatula, and movebthem to the baking sheet. If you are making pretzel bites, you can add 8-10 at a time. I like to use a large slotted spoon to scoop them out.
Brush the egg yolk on the tops of the pretzels, then sprinkle some coarse sea salt over the top (use as much as you'd like).
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until you get a nice brown exterior.
Serve warm with a cold beer and a nice cheesy dipping sauce.
SPICY GRUYÈRE CHEESE SAUCE
- 4 ounces of grated Gruyère cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/8 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- pinch of kosher salt
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat (you don't want to brown the butter). When the butter starts to bubble, whisk in the flour. Whisk over low heat for about 5 minutes.
Add about a quarter of the milk to the sauce pan, and whisk until the mixture is smooth, and there are no lumps of flour. Add the rest of the milk, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
Whisk in the garlic clove (finely minced, or pressed), chili powder, and mustard powder.
Turn off the heat, and add the cheese in 4 parts, mixing after each until it is melted. Add salt to taste.
Here's my daughter tasting the pretzels with the Nutella/whipped cream sauce! Start with Nutella and add the whipped cream until you like the creamy consistency. Yum!
The whole thing takes about 1 1/2 hours (because of rising time), and makes 16 traditional pretzels, or 50 pretzel bites. Trust me, these are good!