I've been hankering hardcore for soft pretzels for weeks and weeks, but I've been trying to watch my wallet. Thankfully, I remembered PW mentioning making Smitten Kitchen's soft pretzels with much success. So, I finally had time and went for it! Man, are they good. Chewy with a tender middle, I recommend melted Cream Cheese to dip in. Here's how, thanks to Smitten Kitchen:
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Updated with a few tweaks 2/20/2009
Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature
2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook* and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.
3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.
5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.
* These days, I mix all of my bread doughs by hand, with a wooden spoon. I find it a fantastically easy process, and not very hard to stir by hand. No need to mix for several minutes, just a minute or so after it looks combined. To save even more dishes, I rinse out the bowl, oil it and use it for proofing the dough. And you thought making bread wasn’t simple!
Then, Pioneer Woman further tempted me in the form of a Tres Leches Cake that I intended to make for Zach's birthday last week but got put off until today. Man, it was amazing! Not soggy at all!!!
* 1 cup All-purpose Flour
* 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
* ¼ teaspoons Salt
* 5 whole Eggs
* 1 cup Sugar, Divided
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla
* ⅓ cups Milk
* 1 can Evaporated Milk
* 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
* ¼ cups Heavy Cream
* FOR THE ICING:
* 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
* 3 Tablespoons Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.
Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.
Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.
Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.
Happy 4th, everyone! Make sure all your fingers stay safe. :)