It’s almost Super Bowl time, and nothing says sports to me like a soft pretzel. They are the ubiquitous snack of stadiums. And we get them at every sporting event we go to.
My seven year old loves them as much as I do, so I decided to tackle them at home. I was nervous. Could I really get them to taste like the soft pretzels you buy at the stadium? YES, with the help of this recipe from Alton Brown. No one could be a better judge than my seven year old, and these were a hit with him. They are relatively easy to make, but they do take some time (the dough needs to rise before you work with it.) Simply put all the ingredients in your stand mixer with a dough hook, and let it do the kneading for you. Boiling the dough in baking soda water gives the pretzels the crispy outside with the soft center. I’ve read that pretzel manufacturers use a food-grade lye for to make their pretzels crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I don’t know about you, but baking soda sounds a lot better to me, and it achieves the same result.
I chose to make the pretzels into bite-size pieces – easier to work with and great for parties. The sky is the limit as to what you could serve with these tasty morsels. Mustard, spinach dip, hummus, pesto, horseradish sauce, or a warm beer cheese dip. (Look for the recipe next week. It’s a winning combination!)
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit until the mixture begins to foam (about 5 min). Next, add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Increase to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl,and oil the bowl well with canola oil. Return the dough to the bowl and let it rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 jelly roll pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart pot.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 10 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 18-inch rope. USe a kitchen shears to cut them in bite size pieces.
Place the pretzel bites into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Boil them in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove them from the water using a slotted spoon and place them on the parchment paper.spatula.
Brush the top of each pretzel bite with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
If you are making them the day of the party, the pretzel bites are best served right away. But you can make them ahead and freeze them too. Just put them in the oven at 350 to reheat them and add a little extra salt.