Friday, July 11, 2008


One of Sabrina's favorite TV shows is "Good Eats". Alton Brown presents useful information in a fun, creative way so that anyone watching can understand how and why things bake and cook the way they do. It always amazes me how much information the kids retain after watching an episode -

The other night was the show about pretzels. And, you guessed it, Sabrina and Alexander both said "Let's make them"!

I honestly had no idea they were so easy - of course, the mixer does most of the work! Sabrina laughed when I told her that pretzels were one of the Daring Baker Challenges.

She got a little frustrated in the beginning - the dough was elastic and kept snapping back.

Alexander just kept bashing at his until it did what he wanted it to do.

I didn't catch the reason for boiling the dough in water with baking soda. Maybe it flavors it?

One of Alexander's pretzels came apart in the water - ssshhh.
Boiled, salted and ready to go into the oven:

And 15 minutes later, you have this:

And are they good?

Sabrina here: Wow! These were great! My mom always says things are better when you make them yourself and I want to make these again! Like tomorrow! My dad ate his with mustard on it. I tried it, but didn't like it.

Alexander here: Can I have another?

Homemade Soft Pretzels - Alton Brown

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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