I have long loved pretzels of pretty much any variety. Since I got really into baking earlier this year, one thing that I was determined to make was pretzels. When these popped up on Tastespotting, promising fresh soft pretzels in 1 hour, I knew I had to give them a try.
Sure enough, in about an hour I had warm, soft pretzels fresh from the oven. They contain yeast, but don't require any rising time. They were easy to make, and my son helped me roll out all of the pieces into long "snakes" before I twisted them. He had a blast, did a fantastic job and was quite proud of his efforts. We'll be making these again for sure!
These are boiled then baked, giving them a wonderful chewy exterior. The inside is soft and slightly dense. Just wonderful. The only criticism I have of them is that the dough could use a little salt. The original recipe calls for sugar, but I left it out because I wanted my son (who I don't give sugar to) to be able to eat them, and I think the sugar is unnecessary. The next time I make them, I'll add a bit of salt to the dough in addition to sprinkling it on the top.
I think there are a lot of possibilities for this recipe: herbs, parmesan or other cheeses, sun-dried or slow-roasted tomatoes, olives etc... would all be wonderful additions to the dough for a savory pretzel; I also think that sweet versions would be delicious, with raisins or other dried fruits, or a dip in cinnamon sugar. They're so quick and easy, the combinations are endless!
Soft Baked Bavarian Pretzels
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
4 cups flour
4 tablespoons baking soda
10 cups water
1 egg white
1/4 cup coarse salt
Preheat oven to 475. Combine flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add flour, mix on low speed until flour is moistened. Switch to dough hook. With mixer on medium speed, work the dough until it is soft but not sticky, adding more flour or water to achieve this consistency. Put baking soda and 10 cups water on to boil. Divide dough into equal pieces of approximately 3 oz. On a lightly floured surface, roll out into a long rope about 1/2 inch thick. Twist into pretzel shape. Continue until all dough is twisted. When water is boiling, begin dropping dough in baking soda bath for 10 seconds on each side. After removing from bath, place the pretzels on a lightly greased baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are boiled. Brush with egg white, and sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Bake for 10 minutes, or until pretzels are deep golden brown.