This past Thursday was Report Card Night at school, which means that we had a half day before having to come back to meet with parents in the evening. Whenever this happens, a group of teachers uses it as an excuse to go out for lunch. This time, we decided on Red Robin (mostly because I was in the mood for a burger). Two of us got there a little early and were starving, so we ordered an appetizer of pretzel bites while we waited for our friends to arrive.
Maybe it’s because I don’t frequent hockey rinks or sporting events as much as I used to, but I totally forgot how awesome of a snack a pretzel is. Pair it with some good mustard or beer cheese, and you’re golden. So when it came time to bake this weekend, the pretzel bites for Red Robin were still on my mind, and I set out to make pretzels to enjoy all week long.
I found my recipe on Brown Eyed Baker, who I think I’ve posted to here before. The only thing I changed was using sea salt rather than kosher salt, but that’s just because that was what I had on hand.
Also, you should all be very proud of me: usually I am terrified of baking with yeast. I think it’s because of Home Ec in middle school, but I’m always sure I’m going to screw up and the dough won’t rise and I’ll have to start over. But I faced my fears and made the pretzels anyway – AND IT WORKED.
So, first things first, stir together the warm water, sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer. I just turn my tap to its hottest setting and let it cool in the bowl until it’s warm to the touch.
Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it starts to foam. I used this yeast:
Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave, 15 seconds at a time at half power.
By the time your butter is melted, the yeast should be foamy, which I think is supposed to look something like this:
Add the flour and melted butter to the bowl and mix using the dough hook on low speed until everything is combined.
Then, increase the speed to medium and allow to run about 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth.
Transfer the dough to a bowl sprayed with Pam and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
While your dough is rising, you should prepare everything else you are going to use. This means whisking together an egg yolk and tablespoon of water for an egg wash.
This also means combining the water and baking soda in a large pot and bringing it to a boil.
And don’t forget to line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray that with Pam, too! (Pam is getting quite the workout with this recipe.)
By the time you get everything done, hopefully your dough will have doubled in size so it looks like this in your bowl:
Turn it out onto a pastry mat (also sprayed with Pam) and divide into 8 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a 24 inch long rope and fold it into a pretzel shape. My mat is conveniently exactly 24 inches long. I love when things like that work out.
Put the formed pretzels onto your prepared baking sheet.
Then, 2 at a time, drop them into the boiling water and leave in for 30 seconds before removing with a flat spatula back to the baking sheet.
Brush the pretzels with the egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. I didn’t have a paintbrush, so I just used a paper towel dipped in the egg wash to coat them.
Bake at 450°F for 12 minutes or until outsides of pretzels are golden brown. Brown Eyed Baker says until they are deep brown, but I was afraid of setting my fire alarm off, so I stuck with golden brown.
Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.
I recommend serving with honey mustard (that’s what I’m eating on one now) or making a beer cheese if you’re feeling especially fancy. Otherwise, store in airtight plastic bags to maintain freshness, or freeze for later use.
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water, whisked together
- sea salt, for sprinkling
- Stir together warm water, sugar, and sea salt in bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast on top and allow to sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
- Add flour and melted butter. Mix on low speed using dough hook until combined. Turn speed up to medium and mix for 3-4 minutes until dough pulls away from bowl and is smooth.
- Transfer dough to mixing bowl sprayed with Pam. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit on counter for 45 minutes to an hour, until dough is double in size.
- Turn dough onto pastry mat coated with cooking spray. Divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each into a 24 inch long rope and fold into pretzel. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet also coated with cooking spray.
- Meanwhile, bring water and baking soda to a boil. Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Add pretzels, two at a time, to the boiling water. Leave them in for 30 seconds before using a flat spatula to move them back to the baking sheet.
- Brush pretzels with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake at 450°F for 12-14 minutes until pretzels are golden brown. Remove from oven.
- Cool on wire rack slightly before serving.