We are slowly getting settled back into the groove of Bellingham. As I sit here, mid afternoon a storm is blowing in, the rain is doing what it does best here, raining. I always have loved this time of year. The leaves stating to change from green to gold, the sweet smell of precipitation soaking the dry summer earth, the fresh apples and autumn vegetables satisfy my deepest hungers for something comforting. The temperatures have not dropped and I am not bitterly cold, a walk in a windstorm is a novelty this time of year.
As the weather tuns and winter blows in, I settle into the kitchen. I bake breads and make pots of soup. I crave big hearty red wines, candles and books. Seriously you would think it is December, not the last pieces September with this talk. I know what is about to happen to the next six months and I am just preparing my body.
I welcomed this challenge from the Bread Baking Babes for the month of September. Soft pretzels were a great treat and one that I would love to make for our next winter party.
Yield: 12 pretzelsIngredients
- 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (about 14 1/2 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cornmeal (I used semolina sprinkled on parchment paper)
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 large egg
- Flaky salt
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
- Add 3 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).
- Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray (or oil), turning to coat top.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends.
- Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle.
- Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal.
- Place pretzels on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise only slightly).
- Combine 6 cups water and baking soda in a non-aluminum Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer.
- Gently lower 1 pretzel into simmering water mixture; cook 15 seconds. Turn pretzel with a slotted spatula; cook an additional 15 seconds. Transfer pretzel to a wire rack coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining pretzels.
- Place pretzels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. (I used parchment paper sprinkled with semolina.) Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Brush a thin layer of egg mixture over pretzels; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool.