Since I just put pretzel dogs in the oven, I thought I'd share our soft pretzel recipe this week. This recipe has proven to be exceedingly versatile, so I will probably post additions to this recipe as we make new discoveries.
1 cup milk
1 pkg or 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
3 Tbs light brown sugar, packed
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs unsalted butter, diced and softened
1 tsp salt
Warm milk in a saucepan until it's around 110 degrees (a range of 105 to 115 is acceptable). Pour into medium sized mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let sit until yeast soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden or plastic mixing spoon. Stir butter into the mix and add remaining flour and salt to form a sticky dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead five to seven minutes, adding more flour as needed, until smooth but still slightly sticky. (If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to mix in the second addition of flour and to knead – knead on speed 2 for 3-5 minutes.) Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm spot until doubled in size, about one hour.
Punch down risen dough to deflate it. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. If the dough seems tight and unmanageable, recover it and let it rest for a while longer until it relaxes.
Dissolve 1/3 cup baking soda in 3 cups warm water in shallow baking dish.
For shaped pretzels, divide dough into six balls. Roll and stretch each ball to form a rope about 30 inches long. Shape each rope into a pretzel.
For pretzel sticks, divide the dough into 24 balls. Roll and stretch each ball into a short stick – 5-6 inches long.
Dip the pretzels in the soda wash and then place on a well-greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle with course salt. Bake in a 450 degree oven 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
For buttered pretzels, melt about 8 tbs butter and dip the cooked pretzels into the butter (they are delicious enough to eat completely plain, though!).
Alterations discovered thus far:
Divide the dough into 20 pieces. Wrap one piece of dough around a hot dog (we love to use Polish sausages), leaving the ends open and making sure the seam is well sealed. Dip in soda wash, sprinkle with salt, and bake on well-greased or parchment lined baking sheet at 450 for about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into eight pieces. Use an English muffin form or a circle of similar size to shape the dough into circles. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes (I think – we're still experimenting with time) or until buns are golden brown.
Divide dough into 24 pieces. Stretch into sticks, as with pretzel sticks.
*Optional – lightly brush sticks with butter and sprinkle with garlic. This can also be done after the sticks are cooked. They are also good with nothing on them.
Place sticks on a well-greased or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. (Again, we're still working on temperature/time, but this seems to work)
We're experimenting with cheese-filled breadsticks. The ones we made this weekend leaked cheese, but they were SOOOO good. Stay tuned for a final result to our experimentation!