We were back in Iowa for my wife’s family reunion. It’s a potluck affair that, in years past, my wife and I have been freeloading on by bringing something lame, like plates and cups or chips. This year, to make up for that, I made brisket in a crock pot and also some pretzels.
This recipe is essentially unmodified from the pretzel rolls recipe I’ve posted before. The main difference this time was that I was going to make a more traditional pretzel shape, and I was also going to try and get one of my nieces to help make them.
1. Mix it (dry): 4C flour, 1 packet rapid rise yeast, and 1T sugar.
2. Microwave it: I put 1.25C water and 2T butter together in the microwave and zap it for a while until the butter melts. The overall temp of the liquid should be about 120 degrees.
3. Mix it (wet): add the butter-water to the dry ingredients and incorporate the two into a dough.
4. Knead it: dump the dough out of the bowl and knead the dough for a while. Normally, I would knead the dough for about five minutes. If you have a ten year old helping you, it may take longer.
5. Rest it (first rise): clean out the mixing bowl and lube it up with oil or cooking spray. Put the dough inside, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rest/rise for about 45 minutes.
6. cut it: after the rise, cut the dough up into 8 equal pieces for large pretzels. Put the dough back into the bowl and keep covered so that the dough doesn’t dry out.
7. roll it: take 1 piece of dough and roll/stretch it out into one long strand that will be about 0.25-0.5″ diameter and 24″ in length.
8. shape it: curl the ends over into your shape of choice. We made a big B shape, since we were going to the Bahls family reunion. You can make it a regular pretzel shape too. Wherever the pretzel overlaps itself, press it down a little bit. This will ensure that the pretzel will keep it’s shape when cooking.
9. rest it (second rise): cover each pretzel with a tea towel as you work. When you are done, let them all rest for about 15 minutes or however long it takes to preheat the oven to 450 and boil a big pot of water. If you haven’t lost the attention of your ten-year-old assistant by now, you will likely lose it here.
10. poach it: Put 2/3C baking soda into a pot of boiling water. Do this carefully, as it will want to bubble over. Take the pretzels and poach them in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. When I did this at my mother-in-law’s house, I could fit two big pretzels in at a time, but that is because she has bigger pots than I do.
11. wash it: beat an egg with about 1T of water. After the pretzel comes out of the baking soda water bath, brush on some egg wash and sprinkle with some salt. Pretzel salt would be perfect, but it is a specialty ingredient that I can’t seem to find anywhere. I used coarse sea salt (not fine sea salt).
12. bake it: 450 for twenty minutes.
13. eat it: these pretzels, as always, were awesome. The recipe is pretty forgiving, and except for the poaching, it’s really no more or less difficult to make than bread. Every time I make pretzels, I wonder why I don’t make them more often.
We served these with pub cheese. We have a brand that we like from Trader Joe’s. But we were able to find one at Wal-Mart that was just as good. Plus, I like the President Pub Cheese, and pretty much all President and Allouette cheese products, because we drive right by the factory whenever we go back to Iowa.
We also served these with some Inglehofer sweet and hot mustard. Since the Bahls originally hail from Germany, I thought it would be fitting. Plus, mustard is always delicious with pretzels.
If I were to do this again, I would make pretzel rings, rather than big pretzels. I made two batches, which resulted in about 16 big pretzels. But I think making 32 somewhat-smaller pretzel rings would have been a little more convenient.