Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels (4/52)

One is the loneliest number.

And one was how many of these pretzels were left. No, not by choice. In fact, the Husband, the Boy, and the Girl were all pretty keen to get their hands on this particular pretzel. And, I must admit, after snapping only four hasty photos, it lasted all of about thirty more seconds before girl and I split it for our breakfast.

Totally healthy, I’m sure.

One is also the number of times I have made this recipe. And to be fair, I haven’t even made this recipe once. I supervised Boy as he made it. That’s what you call faith.  I’m not one for following directions, even on the first go-around; however, this recipe from the King Arthur Flour company boasts slightly more than a hundred positive reviews, most of which said not to change a thing– no mean feat. Usually reviews are chock-full of people giving five stars and then proceeding to tell you everything they did that made the recipe not the recipe. But with over a hundred positive comments saying the recipe was perfect as is on the KAF website no less, why mess with perfection the first go around?*

The second go-around…I have such plans.  And next time I’ll make them when no one is home. Maybe then I can grab a photo of more than one lonely pretzel tossed onto a paper towel.

*Okay, so I did change a couple of things. Nothing vital, I assure you.

Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Very slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour’s pretzel recipe
Ingredients:
For the Dough:
2 ½ cups King Arthur Flour All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 ¼ tsp. (1 packet) active dry yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water (I used 1 cup because it was a dry winter day)


For the Pretzel’s Bath:
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. baking soda
Kosher salt (or pretzel salt, but not table salt)
4 tbsp. melted butter (original recipe calls for 3)

Directions:

It’s always helpful to have an excellent kitchen assistant.

“Arggh, matey!  I be kneadin’ your dough!”

Someone inherited his mom’s sense of humor.  I laugh at weep for the future.

Seriously, though, we’re making pretzels here.

We used the stand mixer because I actually hate to knead dough.  I always wonder if I am doing it correctly, and then I get frustrated.  When I get frustrated, I tend to get grumpy and angry and loud.  It isn’t pretty, and it’s why I usually reserve any bread-making for days when the kids aren’t around.  So, yeah, I don’t really ever make bread.

The point is that there are instructions on the KAF site for how to make these pretzels by hand, with a mixer, in a bread machine, and in a food processor.  They’ve got you covered.

Here goes….

Pour the flour into the bowl of the stand mixer.

Empty a packet of active dry yeast into the bowl.  I love this stuff because it doesn’t need to be proofed beforehand; you can just mix it in with the dry ingredients.

Add the salt and sugar.  I poured these in a measuring cup for Boy so he didn’t have to futz with the measuring spoons.  Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have done that– he’s capable of using measuring spoons.  I only had two packets of yeast and I didn’t want to lose this one, so we went the safe route.

After the dry ingredients are in the bowl, it’s time to play with the thermometer.  We decided, despite the recommended 120 to 130 degrees, to go with 115 because it meant we didn’t have to bother heating it further.  We’re rebels like that.

Water close to the correct temperature goes into the bowl.

Attach the dough hook, lock the top, and set the mixer to 2-4.

Let it mix for five minutes

until the dough is soft and pliable.

This is where we deviated from the instructions just a little.  KAF directs you to put the dough in a bag to rise.  The only time I’ve ever done that, the dough burst out of the bag.  We opted for a bowl, which we lightly oiled first.

Place a dish towel (or a baby blanket) over the top of the bowl, and let the dough rest and rise for thirty minutes.

When the timer beeps…magic.

On a very clean, lightly oiled (not floured) counter, divide the dough in half.

Then divide it in half again.

Then divide each of those quarters in half.  You should have 8 pieces.

Let the dough rest for five minutes.   Pre-heat your oven to 475 degrees F and make the water bath that I talk about seven or so pictures from now.

With very clean, lightly oiled hands, roll each piece into a rope approximately 28 to 30 inches in length.

We only managed about 24 inches.  We also had to squash out some air bubbles along the way.

Once the requisite size is (almost) reached, twist that puppy into a pretzel-like shape.

We never quite figured it out.  We made every pretzel differently.

Here’s one way to do it:

Okay, at some point– I’d suggest while the eight pieces of dough are resting, or while you are busy playing with your pretzel snakes, mix a cup or so of water with two tablespoons of baking soda, and bring them to a boil, stirring to ensure that the soda is dissolved in the water.

Pour the soda solution into a heat-proof dish, and set the pretzels in it for 2 minutes at a time.  The KAF instructions say to spoon the water over the top. We just carefully flipped our pretzels so that both sides were covered evenly.  Most pretzel recipes that I’ve seen suggest putting the whole pretzel in the pot of boiling water.  I don’t know about that– especially since I was making these with Boy– but I will say that the water got cold and kind of icky with the last four, so next time I’ll most likely trade the soda solution out halfway through.

Place the pretzels on a lightly greased baking sheet– the recipe suggests parchment paper, but my parchment paper says it’s not to be used in temperatures over 425, so I went with greased aluminum foil.

Bake the pretzels for 8-9 minutes.

While they bake, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.  This is where we deviated from the original recipe again.  It called for 3 tablespoons, but we live on the edge.  I mean, that’s half a tablespoon per pretzel.  It just makes mathematical sense.

These were baked for 8 minutes.  We also forgot to add the salt before baking them.

Brush them with melted butter– half of the dish for the first batch.

Sprinkle with coarse salt (kosher or pretzel– not table salt, which will be too melty and too salty), and then eat them hot.  These lasted pretty much seconds after being taken from the oven.  I am not exaggerating.  All four of us were hovering over them.  It was really funny…and sad…and delicious.

Below is a photo of the second batch– except the one in the center, which was from the first batch for comparison.  Here you can see a few things happening:

(1) the pretzels are smaller–we got tired of rolling and fighting the dough

(2) the shapes are stranger– lots of bizarre pretzel making techniques were tried

(3) the pretzels were saltier– yeah, I know you can’t see that, but they were; we remembered to sprinkle them with salt before baking and it seemed to increase the saltiness.

These lasted a little longer.  By an hour.

My advice: make a double batch, get the kids to help, and eat them hot or warmed up.  They get a little greasy when cold– probably all of that butter. 😉

Yield: 8 4-inch pretzels

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