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© Brian Bowen Smith
The secret to making your own pretzels is having the patience to make your own pretzels. I promise you, though, the investment is worth it. The first time I made these was with Duff Goldman, the well-deserved Ace of Cakes, and he made it seem so easy. His encouragement inspired me to give it a try on my own. They are fun to make, and even better with your kids. The only thing to think about ahead of time is whether you want them as an appetizer, snack, or dessert. Nutella is wonderful when these are soft and warm, but you can substitute a mustard sauce and add sea salt after brushing on the butter before baking. Either way, these are a treat.
1. Combine the warm water, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast, and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the melted butter. Add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (80°F to 85°F), free from drafts, until almost doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 475°F with the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
4. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 20-inch-long rope. Holding 1 end of the dough rope in each hand, make a U-shape on the floured surface. Leaving about a 3-inch tail on each end, cross the dough ends. Cross the ends again, twisting them together much like a twist tie. Bring the 3-inch tails down, and attach to the dough under the bottom of the U-shape (1 end at about 5 o’clock and the other at about 7 o’clock), forming the shape of a pretzel. Repeat with the remaining dough ropes.
5. Fill a large, wide pot with about 3 inches of water, and add the baking soda. Bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high. Boil the pretzels, 2 at a time, until puffed and shiny, about 2 minutes, transferring to the prepared baking sheets as they are ready. Brush the pretzels with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter.
6. Bake the pretzels, switching the baking sheets top rack to bottom rack halfway through, until deeply browned, about 12 minutes.
7. While the pretzels are baking, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium until the milk just begins to bubble, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the chocolate-hazelnut spread.
8. Serve the warm pretzels with your favorite sauce.
1/2 (17.5-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup golden raisins
5 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds
1 (8-ounce) Brie round
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
French bread baguette, sliced
Hands on time