Soft pretzels, what comes to mind when you think of these? Baseball games, the state fair, festivals? For me they remind me of going to the Ohio State Fair when I was younger. Going to the fair when I was a little girl meant looking at some farm animals, eating, walking through the marketplace, eating, touring the dairy farm, eating, watching a horse competition, eating, riding rides on the midway, eating…hmmm, there seems to be a pattern here! I guess the real reason we went to the fair was to eat! 🙂
It became a tradition to get a big soft pretzel every time we went. My love for pretzels still continues to this day. It seems every time I walk through the mall I am tempted by the aroma of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. I usually go for the original soft pretzel with cheese dipping sauce or maybe the cinnamon-sugar pretzel. Either way, I know that it is going to taste fabulous. So I was thinking, why couldn’t I recreate these wonderful fresh, hot, golden brown pretzels? After all, it is fair season, right? I have never tried to make my own pretzels and I was very shocked at how simple they are to make! As I was rolling out the dough, I could not help but think of playing with play-doh. This would be such a fun recipe to make with kids. They would have so much fun rolling out the dough! This recipe makes 12 pretzels, so I decided to make 6 regular salt pretzels and 6 cinnamon-sugar pretzels. In my book they both equaled pretzel perfection-fresh, hot, golden-brown.
2 tablespoons coarse salt, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds
Mix together the yeast, honey, salt, flour, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the dough hook and knead dough at low-speed until a smooth and elastic ball forms, 5 to 7 minutes. The dough will be stiff.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough , cover again, and let rise until nearly doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 6 cups water into a 12-inch skillet. Add baking soda, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (2 ounces each) Roll each piece into a 20-inch long, 1/2 inch wide rope. Working one at a time, pick up the ends of the 20-inch dough rope and cross them over to form an oval with about 1 1/2 inches of dough ends overlapping.
Twist the top end of the overlapping end over the bottom end and bring the ends down to form a pretzel shape. Lightly moisten the end with water and firmly press the ends of the dough onto the dough at about the 5 o’clock position and the 7 o’clock position.
Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Using a slotted spoon, gently place the pretzels into the boiling water, top-side down, and boil for 30 seconds. You should be able to place 3 or 4 pretzels in at a time. Using tongs, carefully flip the pretzels over and boil for 30 seconds longer. Remove pretzels with a slotted spoon, drain well, and place back onto the prepared baking sheet. Pretzels will not rise too much in the oven, you should be able to place all 12 on one baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until pretzels are well-browned, turning the baking sheet halfway through baking. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a wire cooling rack.