I made pretzels today!
It’s ok, go ahead…roll your eyes, and say it. “Big whoop, Prudy”..
Apparently, I’ve been researching and planning for nothing. This is no big deal.
Katie and Ryan stopped by right just as I was rolling the pretzels into logs. I looked at Ryan, and said “I’m making pretzels…” I braced myself for unconstrained excitement.. and instead he just nodded his head as if he could tell what I was doing. Hmm…
After I had them all rolled out and laid out on parchment covered cookie sheets, I started to get the poaching bath ready. I had decided that I was going to make brown sugar and honey pretzels, and as I was pouring the honey into the water, Ryan asked me what I was doing… “I’m making the poaching bath…” He nodded his head as if he knew what that meant. Hmmm.. (In reality, he was only asking me what I was doing with the honey..)
After I added the baking soda to the water, I was in awe… “This totally smells like pretzel!! I can’t believe it smells like pretzel!!” I excitedly exclaimed..
Katie and Ryan just nodded their heads as if they knew that already… What the heck?
Katie said “I know, isn’t that so cool? I love making pretzels, I haven’t made them in a couple of years though”…
I turned around and looked at her in disbelief.
“You made pretzels?” I asked nonchalantly, trying to contain my urge to yell…
“Yeah, mom. About two years ago. You were eating them. Don’t you remember?”
What the heck?
And Ryan has been making them all along??
Seriously. What. The. Heck.
Honestly…where have I been all these years?
So. Here they are….
In the end, it doesn’t matter that pretzels are a cinch to make…and that people have been making them homemade forever…and I just didn’t know it.
I had fun making them.
And while I did my research and knew that it’s actually the alkali (from the baking soda) in the water that gives them that distinctive pretzel smell and that familiar shiny brown crust. I was still in awe when I smelled it for the first time! I had no idea.
It’s like I invented the wheel today. At least in my own little world, I invented the wheel.
Life is good. It’s good, especially when you’re clueless. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss; it helps us to be excited about things that might otherwise be ordinary…
This recipe makes about 2 dozen.
You will need:
Active dry yeast
Shortening or olive oil
Grease a medium size bowl with shortening or olive oil. Set aside.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (between 95F and 110F)
Dissolve the brown sugar in the water, and add the yeast. While your yeast is busy feasting on the brown sugar, you can start preparing the flour and salt:
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt
Mix flour and salt together in the bowl of your stand mixer (or if doing this by hand, a large bowl).
Once the yeast/water mixture is foamy, pour into the flour and salt mixture. Mix on low with bread hook attachment until dough is smooth and elastic. If mixing by hand, mix together until a dough forms, and move dough to floured surface. Knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough into a medium bowl that has been greased with shortening or olive oil. Cover with a towel, and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size.
Remove the dough, and divide into 24 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a log that is about 8″ by 1/2″. Lay the dough logs onto the prepared baking sheets, cover with towels, and place in a warm spot. Let rise for one more hour.
The Poaching Bath
10 cups water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup baking soda
Bring the water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add the brown sugar, honey, and baking soda. Stir and simmer for five minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
Baking the Pretzels
Place about four dough logs at a time into the poaching bath. Simmer for about 30 seconds on one side. Flip. Simmer for about 30 seconds on the other side. Remove with tongs and place back onto the parchment covered baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough logs.
Prepare the egg wash by whisking one large egg and one tablespoon of water together. Brush each pretzel with the egg wash, and sprinkle with the pretzel salt (as much, or as little as you like).
Bake for about 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Remove from oven, and cool completely on cooling rack.