Pretzels are one of my favorite things about the world. As a teen, my friends and I would get them at the mall, guilt-free, before calories were a thing. There is nothing quite like them. Do these pretzels really need an introduction? Let's just say, if someone tells you they don't like soft pretzels, don't trust that person.
For many, soft pretzels seem like too much work to tackle on their own. On a weeknight. But for me, I began making these at 8:30pm on a Tuesday, and I still have enough Tuesday left to blog about them. You can too! I'll show you:
Make your dough! The dough is basically a pizza dough, but with more yeast. That yeasty flavor is essential to an authentic American-mall pretzel. Normally I mix the yeast and the sugar together, then add the hot water, and then hover over the bowl, standing and watching until the yeast starts exploding. I call them yeast fireworks. It's really fun to watch. Does anyone else do this?? This time, I let the yeast bloom while I ate dinner, which took as long as an episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia takes to watch. When I came back to check on it, it had tripled in size. After I kneaded it all together, I must say, this was the finest dough I ever made. You know when you're dough just feels right? Not too sticky, not too dry, and you barely have to push when you knead? Model dough. This dough has 4 cups of flour, 1/3 cup sugar, some salt, with the yeasty mixture.
Let it rise in a bowl with a little olive oil for 1 hour.
This recipe makes 12 6-inch pretzels. For gigantic hockey game-style pretzels, just cut the dough into 6 pieces instead of 12. To make a pretzel, roll a ball of the dough into a long rope, about 20 inches long.
Bring your hands to the ends, and make a heart shape. Now, twist the ends around each other two times. Press the ends to the edge of the pretzel to stick. Repeat!
Maybe before you start rolling your balls of dough out, make your baking soda bath. This bath is essential for pretzel-making. One time I accidentally skipped the dunking process for my last 4 pretzels and they came out like pretzel-shaped breadsticks. They were good, but they were NOT pretzels. The bath is just a quart of water boiled with a handful of baking soda dissolved into it.
Carefully pick up each pretzel and dunk it in the baking soda bath. Let it soak in the bath for 10 seconds or so, and remove it with a slotted spoon.
The pretzels are all activated now with their rich, shiny coating. They look a little bubbly, but that's okay, it's the baking soda. Try not to drip too much of the water onto the baking sheet, because it makes the pretzels hard to get off the sheet after they are baked. I may or may not have done that tonight...
Sprinkle with salt! Any salt will do-- be it fleur de sel or table salt. I accidentally bought this huge bottle of coarse grain sea salt instead of fine ground one time, so I figured this would be the perfect occasion to make use of it. Plus, I'm way to punk for fleur de sel...
I guess you want about 1/4 teaspoon salt per pretzel? You decide. I've had pretzels that were too salty before and never has a greater travesty occurred. The pretzel, so perfect and doughy, became inedible. What a waste of a pretzel (and salt)! So take it easy, you can always add more.
Behold, the first miracle you performed since dinner.
And you're done! Pretzels are before you! You can have at them straight up, or you can dip them in an assortment of things. I am a mustard person, but I've been known to dip them in almond butter, chocolate, pasta sauce, hummus, barbecue sauce, vegenaise...
Sweet mustard or Spicy mustard? Can't decide? Make it both! Try this 3 ingredient Sweet & Spicy mustard sauce that is comprised of ingredients any normal vegan will have in their house: 1 cup yellow mustard / 2 tablespoons sriracha / 2 tablespoons agave nectar
Put them in a vitamix and then eat it. If you don't have a vitamix, perhaps you have a whisk? No? A Fork? A fork will work too.