So this is probably where I apologize for being gone for so long. But you know what? I bet that most of you really just don’t care about my schoolwork and this and that and blah blah blah and really want me to just get onto the pretzels since that is indeed the title of this post. So I will! But there is one reason I’ve been gone that you might wanna take a look at.
So yeah. You’ll forgive me, right.
Anyway. Why pretzels? Well you see, father’s day was fast approaching. And I’ve had a long history of not really knowing what to get for him. You know, as a present. I mean sure, I always got something for him — but it was usually some weird clay formation I made in art or some cookies. You see, cookies are great because they really don’t require any thinking, but people think that you put a lot of effort into them. That’s where the problem is, though. My dad doesn’t like dessert! (I know, he’s weird.). Don’t worry I’ve tried to convert him, but it gets to a point where shoving cakeballs down someone’s throat really just isn’t worth it. But as you can tell, my flawless backup present seems to have some flaws. So I decided to take it one step further and actually give him something he’d EAT instead of something he’d shove to the dark dusty depths of his desk or hide in some obscure corner of the fridge never to be seen again. My thought process: He likes pretzels. I’ve never made pretzels. I’ve never made anything with yeast. Sounds like a plan!
Of course that “plan” probably should’ve started earlier in the day. I might have gotten a little… distracted… and not started until like 6:00. What can I say. I’m overconfident in my baking skills, I guess.
Anyway, we’ll start with the elephant in the room here. Yeast! Yeeeeeeeaaaa. st. A lot of people are scared of yeast. And I’m a little ashamed to admit that I was indeed one of those people (I know, what kind of baker am I). But today marks the day that I decided to tackle the great beast!
Most 14 year olds are out partying with their friends. I’m at home writing a post on my food blog about yeast.
I’m so cool.
ANYWAY, I always thought that yeast would be some weird type of mexican jumping bean (they are alive, right?) but turns out they’re just these little pellets things. Dump them into a cup of warm water mixed with sugar and wait until…
…it looks like this! At this point I got all paranoid that I’d done something wrong and googled pictures of what active yeast should look like but turns out that this worked fine. So moral of story: yeast is hard to mess up.
Okay. So I kind of forgot to take pictures during the last couple steps (well maybe I might have made a huge flour-y mess and wanted our two viewers to think that I am a neat and organized person) but either way you basically just attach a dough hook, add some flour, and mix the heck out of it (actually mix it on low. trust me).
Then plop it out onto a floured board and it should look like the above picture.
Pour a couple tablespoons of oil into a big clean bowl… and drop the doughball in. Make sure to roll the dough around in it to coat all the sides with oil!
At this point I was pretty thoroughly convinced by myself that the yeast had somehow died in the process and that it wouldn’t work… but I stuck the bowl in a warm place for a couple hours just to see what would happen…
So imagine my surprise when I saw THIS
Woot woot! Today also marks the day when my yeast doubled in size!
I’m so cool, guys.
Anyway. Then you punch the dough. Like, punch it hard.
It’s really satisfying.
Then you plop it back onto that floured board and knead it a couple times. Squish it out into a vaguely rectangle-ish shape.
Okay. So at this point you’re supposed to cut the dough into 16 equal sized pieces. Using my conceptual math skills, I came up with this brilliant plan: cut the dough into four big chunks…
…and then cut those chunks into four chunks each.
Guys. Not only am I cool… but I’m also a math genius.
Basically what you should do is roll each chunk out to about a 15 inch strip, and then twist it into the pretzel shape you see above.
I probably should have given a little tutorial for how to twist them into the pretzel shape but honestly you can figure that out yourself, can’t you? Good.
(they’re so cute!)
You should get about 8 pretzels per pan, and two pans. Cover each pan with a dishcloth or something and put them somewhere warm (like above a heating oven). Leave them there for like 15 minutes – they puff up a little more.
See? Puffy. Puuuuuuuu. fy.
Ok. So what you do next is fill a “large wide saucepan” (just grabbed a big pot) and fill it with about 2 inches of water (you probably don’t really need that much). Throw in some baking soda and sugar, and mix it around until dissolved. THEN: you drop in about four pretzels at a time.
After about one minute of poaching, turn each pretzel over and do another minute. I used my phone as a timer for this (which you can probably see in the high quality picture above this one).
Make sure you do that for all of the 16 pretzels. Don’t worry if they’re weird and lumpy and wet and have weird holes in them and are kinda soggy and ugly. That’s how you want’em.
Then you wanna make an egg glaze (aka whisk an egg and a tablespoon of water together). Looks appetizing, huh.
Ok, you might not be able to tell from this beautiful natural light picture, but you just spread some of the egg glaze on each pretzel and sprinkle with salt. Go heavy on the salt, guys, unless you wanna have to shove it down your dad’s throat.
Stick’em in the oven for about 15 minutes.
…and you’re done! Not too bad. Maybe my “plan” didn’t go as expected (cough these were served at 10 cough) but people ate them (as you can tell by the pretzel being lifted away on a darth vader spatula in the background).
…and today marks the day that I successfully made pretzels! (and the day that I made something that I didn’t have to force my dad to like).
Try it, guys, and maybe one day you’ll be as cool as me.
miniature soft pretzels
Adapted from smitten kitchen
1 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 packet active dry yeast
2.5 to 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/8 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1. Pour warm water and 1/2 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 1/2 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 2 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 1/4 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/4 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, and wrap in plastic.
5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 15-inch-long strip. Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 1 tablespoon 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 taste good the next day if you toast them.