Soft Pretzel vs. Soft Pretzel

This week I have two recipes to report on; however, both are soft pretzels.  I thought it would be fun to experiment with two different recipes to see which one I liked best and had the best overall flavor.

The first recipe was from www.catchmyparty.com which had a lovely blog post on making pretzel dogs.  Of course, the boys were all excited for me to try something new for lunch especially since it involved “hot dogs.” 🙂 10371516_10152528422013115_4512833752584937786_nEveryone was very pleased with the way they tasted.  Mine didn’t turn out looking exactly like the ones from the original creators, but I was pleased with them considering it was the first time to make pretzel dough.  I was just thrilled that they tasted like the ones you get at Sam’s Club or Target.  Seems like all the kids have gotten hooked on the soft pretzels at Sam’s Club since it has become the perfect snack to keep them happy while on our monthly grocery run.  The past several times I’ve had all the kids with me, we’ve ended up at Sam’s Club too early for lunch but perfect timing for a nice snack.  H enjoys getting in on the snacking too since she now has THREE little teeth to chew with. 🙂

The second recipe I tried was actually recommended by one of my cousins.  My favorite part about the recipe from www.smittenkitchen.com (which was adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe) is that it used less baking soda in the water bath and less sugar in the dough.  Good thing it called for less baking soda because I had just enough left in my cabinet! Whew!  The following is a step-by-step guide to the second recipe.  Both are listed at the bottom of this post.

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STEP 1:  Pour 2 C. warm water, 1 T. sugar and 2 1/4 tsp. (one packet) active dry yeast into your mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook and let sit 10 minutes.

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The yeast should look foamy after the 10 minutes.  If not, start over again!  Your yeast could be too old or your water temperature too hot or too cold.

STEP 2:  Add 1 C. flour to yeast and mix on low until combined.  Add 1 T. salt and 4 C. more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.  Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Add another 1/2 C. flour, and knead on low 1 minute more.

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If dough is still wet and sticky, ad 1/2 C. more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds.

Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead about 10 times, or until smooth.

STEP 3:  Coat a large bowl with oil (or spray liberally with pan spray).  Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides.  Cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.

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STEP 4:  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.  Set aside.  Punch down dough to removed bubbles.  Transfer to a lightly floured board.  Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.  [To save on plastic wrap and time, I just divided into 8 large pieces and wrapped those in plastic wrap leaving one out to work with.]

2014-06-21 11.47.03Divide your dough piece in half setting one aside.

2014-06-21 11.47.21STEP 5:  Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [Use a flour-free surface to do the rolling since it will be MUCH easier.]

2014-06-21 11.47.32Make a “U” shape and overlap the top.

2014-06-21 11.47.58Fold the ends down onto opposite sides making the twisted pattern.

2014-06-21 11.48.31Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel.  continue to form pretzels.

2014-06-21 11.54.56Eight should fit on one sheet unless making miniature pretzels in which you will need a third sheet prepared.  Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

2014-06-21 11.56.38STEP 6:  Fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water.  Bring to a boil.  Add 1/2 C. baking soda and 2 T. sugar.  [Step back for this since the baking soda foams like a volcano!]  Reduce to a simmer.

2014-06-21 11.58.35Transfer as many pretzels as you can fit inside your pot/pan and poach 1 minute on each side. [Hint:  Keep them all either bottom-side up or top-side up so you will know which ones you’ve already flipped.]

2014-06-21 12.01.34Use slotted spoon or spatula to transfer pretzels to baking sheet.  Continue until all pretzels are poached.

STEP 7:  Beat 1 large egg with 1 T. water.  Brush pretzels with egg glaze.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack or eat warm.  Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days.  Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

Serve warm with melted butter and a little more salt (to taste).  DELICIOUS!!!

The biggest difference between the two recipes breaks down as follows:

catchmyparty.com        vs.      smittenkitchen.com

  • darker color   /  medium golden-brown
  • softer    /   too chewy
  • faster steps   /   more rising times
  •                        /   less baking soda needed

Soft Pretzels – by http://www.smittenkitchen.com

2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt

1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook* and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.

5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

Homemade Soft Pretzels – by http://www.catchmypart.com

Ingredients:

pretzel dough

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (melted)

topping

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or pretzel salt (for topping)

poaching liquid

  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda

Directions:

In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, and yeast to 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Let the bowl stand about 5 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. It should bubble. Add the flour and melted butter and mix until completely combined. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can mix on low for 5 minutes. Otherwise, drop the dough on a smooth surface and knead for 7-10 minutes (trust me, it’s not hard). Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour. The dough should roughly double in size. After it the dough has risen, preheat the over to 450F and start boiling the 10 cups of water in a large stock pot. Once you have a rolling boil, add the 2/3 cup baking soda. Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat, or very lightly oiled parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into 16 inch ropes. The dough is very elastic, so it will tend to shrink a few inches as soon as you stop rolling it out – that’s normal.

For the traditional pretzels, lower them carefully into the boiling water with a spatula. They will sink initially, but float up to the surface after 15-20 seconds. Let them boil for about 45 seconds then lift them out with a spatula, and move them to the baking sheet. If you are making pretzel bites, you can add 8-10 at a time. I like to use a large slotted spoon to scoop them out.

Brush the egg yolk on the tops of the pretzels, then sprinkle some coarse sea salt over the top (use as much as you’d like). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until you get a nice brown exterior.

The whole thing takes about 1 1/2 hours (because of rising time), and makes 16 traditional pretzels, or 50 pretzel bites.

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