I did it, I finally succumbed to working with yeast for these homemade, mall-style pretzels. You know, those soft chewy kinds from Auntie Anne’s or Wetzel’s Pretzels that your kids always bug you to buy for them? Yep, crisp on the outside and chewy and warm on the inside.
You can finish them anyway you want, but for my family, I did what you see here: the traditional salted kind for the boys and a cheesy Asiago one with jalapenos.
Both were gone in a few minutes. Completely devoured.
I’ll admit these may not be perfectly formed, but who cares when the flavor and texture is spot on. Besides, I’ll make them better next time. Yep, there’s going to be a next time. And next time the boys want cinnamon and sugar. I often wonder if they know how good they’ve got it here.
Now I just have to find a day and plan something for when the dough is proofing – the one part of yeast baking that I don’t like. But other than that, it’s really easy, so I’m glad I can mark homemade pretzels off the family food bucket list.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt
Asiago variation: add 1/2 cup Asiago cheese and 1/2 cup jalapenos
To make the pretzels: Place the milk in a small saucepan; stir and heat until milk is about 110 degrees. Pour warmed milk into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon. Dice 2 tablespoons butter and soften; stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper Punch down the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Evenly divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.
In a large bowl, dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution (this will happen to brown the pretzels), then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt (or sprinkle on cheese and place jalapenos on top). Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.