Lent: Homemade Soft Pretzels

Made these adorable pretzels from scratch last night with a f... on Twitpic

These little soft pretzels are possibly the best snacks ever. And the don't involve meat, so they kind of fit in the Lent category. They would be perfect for tailgates, sports gatherings, appetizers, road trips or just to have around the house to snack on. The process is simple enough, just a bit time consuming, but they come out so well that it is completely and utterly worth it.

Want to hear the best part? You can customize them if you want! I made these with a friend and we brainstormed different ways to make them unique. Here are our ideas for variations, and then the recipe will follow. If these don't work out perfectly don't be mad at me, I haven't tried them all yet.

Add garlic powder and parmesan to the egg wash mixture. You could sprinkle the top with any cheese you'd like (I'd go with mozzarella or parmesan) before putting them into the oven. Provide pizza sauce for dipping them into and possibly even pepperonis that you can stick onto them.

Amusement park or ball park
Make them exactly the same but provide nacho cheese sauce for dipping

Add garlic powder and grated Romano cheese to the egg wash mixture. Provide olive oil with pepper in it to dip them in.

Add garlic powder and feta to the egg was mixture. Provide Tzatziki sauce to dip them into. Or I guess you could dip them in hummus.

If you use butter instead of egg and then sprinkle the whole thing with cinnamon, you can have a sweet pretzel!

I know some of that sounds weird. These are delicious with just the Kosher salt on top, so there's no need to fiddle with them, but if you are having a themed party some of that might be cool.

Here's the recipe from Pennies on a Platter:

Homemade Soft Pretzels
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 22 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil (nonstick) spray, for pan and bowl
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cups baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, salt and water. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Add the flour and mix with the dough hook attachment on low speed. Once the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, wipe the bowl and then spray with the vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, turning once to cover both sides with the oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with vegetable oil; set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water to a boil in a large sauce pan or stock pot, then add the baking soda.

Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface or pastry mat. Divide into 8 equal large pieces (about 4.5 oz each) or 30 small pieces (about 1.2 oz each) and shape into balls. Roll each dough ball into a rope (24 inches long for the large pretzels or 10-12 inches long if making the smaller pretzels.) Holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other, twist one turn, then press onto the center of the rope, to form a pretzel shape. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheets.

Working with one to two pretzels at a time, boil each pretzel for 30 seconds. Use a large slotted spoon or spatula to remove from the water and return to the pan. Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash then sprinkle with kosher or pretzel salt.

Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown (approximately 12 to 14 minutes for 8 large pretzels, or 10 to 12 minutes for 30 small pretzels.) Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Note: If you do not plan to consume pretzels the same day, then I would suggest freezing them immediately after they hit room temperature. The more fresh they are when you freeze them, the better. Throw them in a freezer bag and freeze up to 1 month. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes (until heated through). This is what I do, and they taste just as fresh!

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