Oh baby - would you look at that?
Soft, fresh-out-of-the-oven pretzels are my kids' favorite after-school snack and they're a total cinch to make. A cinch I tell you! Would I lie to you?
Before we begin, I have to show you this again . . .
Because I'm immature and like to gloat and get to gleefully look at this every single day. Gleefully. What a great word.
On a more mature note; when I made this pretzel recipe and took pictures, I didn't have my new mixer. All the pictures will show my old blue mixer. I just don't want you to get confused.
See? I'm just trying for clarity here, people.
In the bowl of your brand-new, 6 qt, candy-apple red, KitchenAid mixer, put 2 envelopes of yeast (I use instant yeast myself, but you can use whatever you like) 2 T. sugar and 2 t. salt. Whisk it together to mix, then pour in 2 2/3 cups very warm water and 1/4 cup of canola oil.
Give it a stir then add . . .
6 cups of flour. You'll end up using 7 1/2 - 8 cups of flour total but start with 6. I use half whole wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose. Because I'm all about healthy snacks in my house. We need healthy snacks because supper will probably be Captain Crunch.
Use your dough hook and keep the mixer on level 2 when you mix this up. See how messy the sides of the bowl are? It needs more flour, so, with the mixer still going, add a 1/2 cup at a time, until it looks like this . . .
See how the sides of the bowl are clean? That's what you want - with just a little bit of sticky dough stuck to the bottom. I ended up adding another 1 1/2 cups of flour for a total of 7 1/2 cups but sometimes it's 8 cups. It all depends on the day, the humidity, how much of a hurry I'm in . . .
Once you have enough flour incorporated, leave the mixer speed on 2 and knead the dough for 4 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto your counter or in my case, my trusty pastry cloth. Cut the dough into 20 pieces and let them rest, under a towel or the mixing bowl, for 5 - 10 minutes. I have to be honest - sometimes I blow that off. It usually takes me that long to roll them out into pretzel shapes so I figure they're getting plenty of rest.
Well-rested pretzels are, I believe, the secret to a successful life. *snort*
Roll them into long ropes, around 15 inches long.
Make this shape, crossing the ends and leaving "tails" about an inch long. Then, lightly pinch the crossed part together, lift it and fold it over. Like this . . .
Lots of pretzels!
Crack an egg into a small bowl and beat it. Then brush the tops of the pretzels with the beaten egg. It makes a lovely golden color when it bakes, plus it helps the cheese to stick better. What cheese, you ask?
This cheese. I use a Colby-cheddar blend but you can use anything. Pepper jack would be awesome but the kids wouldn't like it. I've even put cheese in the dough - just throw a handful of grated cheese in with the flour. Someday I'm going to put jalapenos or chilies in there. Ever had a jalapeno pretzel at Auntie Anne's in the mall? Magical.
My kids like cinnamon sugar pretzels, too. Just sprinkle it on after the egg. You can also sprinkle on sesame seeds or coarse salt. There are so many variations! However you create them, bake them for 13-15 minutes at 425 degrees. They should be a nice golden brown.
So, go forth and create pretzels but before you do I'd like to leave you with this . . .
Maturity is so over-rated.
(Click here for printable recipe!)