Homemade Hard and Soft Pretzels
· 1 ½ cups very warm water
· 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
· 2 teaspoons salt
· 1 package active dry yeast
· 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
· 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
· Olive oil, for greasing
· 10 cups water
· 2/3 cup baking soda (for soft pretzels only)
· 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
· Coarse salt, coarse sugar, cinnamon, cheddar cheese, sliced jalapenos, etc…
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water, sugar and salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let stand for about 5 minutes, until foamy. Add the butter and flour, and combine on low speed, using the dough hook, until well combined. Increase to medium speed and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour. (I divided my dough in half, placing in two bowls, since I planned to make half the dough into soft pretzels and half into hard).
To make Soft Pretzels:
Preheat the oven to 450. Line 2 baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
In a large stock pot, combine the 10 cups of water and baking soda. Bring to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, place the dough on an oiled cutting board and divide into 8 equal pieces (or 4 pieces, if only making half the dough into soft pretzels, like I did). Gently stretch the dough while rolling it between your hands, to form into ropes, about 24 inches long. Form the rope into the shape of a pretzel and place on the greased baking sheet.
One at a time, place the pretzels in the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a large slotted strainer/spatula and place back on the baking sheet.
Brush the pretzels with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse salt, cinnamon and coarse sugar, cheddar cheese and jalapenos, or any other toppings you like.
Bake for 10-14 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for several minutes then serve warm. These are best eaten within a few hours of baking.
Yields 8 soft pretzels for the full batch; 4 pretzels for a half batch.
To make Hard Pretzels:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
In a large stock pot, bring the 10 cups of water to a rolling bowl.
Meanwhile, place the dough on an oiled cutting board and divide into 36 equal pieces (or 18 pieces, if only making half the dough into hard pretzels, like I did). Gently stretch the dough while rolling it between your hands, to form into thin ropes, about 14 inches long. Place on the baking sheets spaced about ¼ inch apart. Cover the dough not being used with a slightly damp towel to keep it from drying out.
Working in batches, place 6 pretzel sticks at a time in the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a large slotted strainer/spatula and place back on the baking sheet.
Brush the pretzel sticks with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt or cinnamon and coarse sugar.
Bake at 350 until golden brown and hard, up to an hour (check them after 30 minutes – if they appear to be browning too quickly before they’re becoming hard inside, reduce the temperature to 325).
Cool on a wire rack before serving. Serve with whole grain mustard, or dip the cooled pretzels in chocolate, then chill in the fridge until the chocolate is set.
Yields 36 pretzel sticks for the full batch; 18 pretzel sticks for a half batch.
Recipe slightly adapted from Alton Brown.