Tell Auntie Anne to take the day off because I am about to show you how to make Bavarian pretzels at home. These twisted beauties are just as tasty as the ones you find at the mall, and you probably have all the ingredients to make them just sitting in your cupboards. They're simple to master and will dazzle all your friends.
Making pretzels requires your counters to be clear so that you have enough room to roll and twist. I always start with a clean kitchen, sink empty and counters wiped. You will want to have a some parchment paper or a nice big cutting board on hand to knead and form your pretzels on. You will also need a cookie sheet to bake them on.
To make the Pretzels:
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.) *Yeast is super cheap and easy to work with, make it your BFF
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsps. table salt
1 large egg, yolk and white separated
4 tbsp. melted butter (unsalted is best)
2 tbsp baking soda
Some coarse salt to sprinkle on top
1. Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 and putting parchment paper down on your baking sheets. The parchment paper is key, i know from experience that you will not be happy if you try to skip it. In a small bowl combine your water and yeast pack, whisk then let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Normally, the ingredients are combined in a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook. I'm 24 and those cost about $300 so I do it the old fashioned way and mix it by hand, or for about $7 you can get an old fashioned dough whisk. My recommendation to you is to do some light wrist stretches before you start, because it's a bit of a work out.
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl lightly combine the egg yolk, yeast & water mixture and melted butter. Dig a little hole in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the liquid mixture in it. I use a wooden spoon to start the stirring but at a certain point you will want to switch to using your hands. This point usually comes when the mixture starts getting sticky and all the ingredients have been fully combined. From here I lift the mound of dough out of the bowl and start kneading it on the cutting board. It's going to be a bit sticky and messy. Keep pulling and twisting the dough until it is smooth and elastic (this usually takes 7-8 minutes). Once it's reached that point, you and the dough need to rest for 5 minutes.
In a large shallow pan mix 2 cups warm water with the baking soda. On your work surface divide your dough. You can either make 6 large pretzels, or you can make 12 pretzel twists. Roll your dough out onto your work surface. For big pretzels you will want to gently roll the dough into a rope about 3 feet long. Dip your rope into the baking soda mixture for 30 seconds then remove and get ready to twist.
Shape your rope into your form of choice, for twists I fold the rope in half then twist. For the standard pretzel shape, make a loop, then twist, then fold the loose ends over and press down lightly so it holds its form.
Lay your pretzels out on your parchment lined sheets. The final touch consists of mixing the egg white with a tablespoon of water. Brush your pretzel lightly with the egg mixture then top it with the coarse salt. Pop it in the oven and allow to bake for 12-15 minutes.
If you want to get creative, you can wrap one of those ropes around a pre-cooked polish sausage, bake and serve for dinner!
You can also enhance your twists with pepperoni, a sprinkle of cheese, or a simple crumb topping (use the one from the Nanner muffins recipe). Wanna get really fancy? Use chopped nuts and toffee. Top, then bake!
Oh and don't forget the dips! In my house the favorites are mustard, chocolate syrup, and con queso!
Not the prettiest pretzel shape i've ever made, but it sure was tasty!