Soft Pretzels

I’m in a snacking mood and these just looked great. Watched Alton Brown make these a few days ago on the Food Network. Made me think of the pretzels we used to snack on with some mustard at the K-Mart I worked at in high school.

Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients         

* warm water

* 2 (1/4-oz.) packages rapid-rise yeast

* 3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar

* 6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour

* 4 tablespoons coarse salt

* 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

* nonstick cooking spray

* 1/2 cup baking soda

* 1/2 cup pale ale-style beer

* pretzel salt

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups warm water, yeast and 1/2 cup of brown sugar; let stand until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.

let the warm water, yeast and brown sugar stand until foamy

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together flour and coarse salt using your hands. Add butter and continue to mix with your hands until the mixture is crumbly. Add yeast mixture and, using your hands, mix until a shaggy dough is formed and water is absorbed.

mix until a shaggy dough is formed

Using the dough hook attachment, mix dough on medium speed until dough is tight, elastic, and smooth – about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator; let chill at least 8 hours and up to overnight.

mix until dough is tight, elastic and smooth

Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Roll the dough out into a 14-by-12 inch rectangle. Cut dough into one dozen 12-inch-long-strips, each about 1-inch wide. Transfer to a large baking sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Transfer to the refrigerator and let chill for 15 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out each piece into a 25-30 inch rope (about 3/4-inch thick), starting from the center and working toward the ends. Make a “U” shape with the rope and cross the ends over, pinching at the bottom of the ‘U” to form a pretzel. Return to the baking sheet and repeat process with remaining dough.

Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large saucepan, combine 8 cups water, baking soda, beer and remaining 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer pretzels, one at a time, until the pretzel floats, about 30 seconds; transfer to the prepared baking sheet using a spatula. Repeat the process with remaining pretzels.

use a slotted spatula to retrieve the pretzel from the saucepan

Sprinkle pretzels with pretzel salt (I only salted a few of them); transfer to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and continue baking until pretzels turn golden or chestnut brown in color, 4 to 6 minutes more.

add salt prior to placing in the oven

Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm with butter or mustard.

From: http://www.foodbuzz.com/recipes/1930618-soft-pretzels

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