Whenever I don’t have immediate plans to eat in a restaurant, I am usually daydreaming about the great places I want to try: a BYOB that I read about in Grub Street Chicago, a great vegetarian place a friend told me about, a cute wine bar that I pass on my way from the bus stop to work.
Of course, when I have actual dinner plans and need to choose a restaurant, I can never, ever think of one, which results in an inevitable volleyball game between me and my lucky dinner companion of no you pick this time, I’m not good at this.
It turns out, I have a similar problem with recipes. When I’m home alone on a rainy Sunday I think, wouldn’t it be great if there was someone here to make a pizza with me? Flipping through a Bon Appetit that I cherry-picked from the newsstand while waiting on line at Walgreen’s, I wish I had a date to make risotto for because I don’t want to be eating the leftovers for a week. Perusing blog posts on my commute, I spot a tapas party menu and wish I had an excuse to throw a party.
Well, I should start reading my own blog, because these homemade soft pretzels that I stumbled on in my archives should be a mainstay for any twenty-something (or thirty-something or forty-something…and so on…) who wants to be able to produce a snack that will trick other people into thinking that you have kitchen skills that rival Emeril’s.
The prep time is not long at all, aside from the hour you need to let the dough rise. There are plenty of productive things you could use that hour for (like stalking your ex on Facebook!) so don’t let it deter you from trying these.
Also, a pro tip from me to you: use fresh flour. If you have a bag that’s been sitting half-empty in your pantry since your first post-collegiate grocery shop, toss it and buy a new one. The drier your flour, the drier your dough will be. Dry dough is more difficult to work with, not to mention will yield dry pretzels.
Trust me on that one.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Originally posted here
1 tsp active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp baking soda
1 cup hot water (as hot as your tap can get)
1. Dissolve yeast into water with a pinch of sugar, let stand 10 minutes, until the mixture is creamy colored. Mix the yeast mixture with flour, sugar, salt and canola oil, and knead until combined. Let the dough rise in a greased bowl until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When the dough has risen, pinch off a handful and roll it out into a long strand. Set aside. Repeat with the rest of the dough, about 6 times. Once all the strands are rolled out, pick up the first one and stretch it out again (the gluten will have relaxed and it should stretch further now).
3. Working one at a time, twist each strand into a pretzel shape and place it on a baking sheet lined with silipat or cooking spray. Repeat with the rest of the strands.
4. Dissolve baking soda into hot water and stir until dissolved. Quickly dip each rolled pretzel into the mixture and place it back on the baking sheet. Sprinkle all the pretzels with sea salt, to your preference. Bake for about 8 minutes, until pretzels have browned.
Makes six medium-sized pretzels.