foodie mcfooderson

a home cook with notions & an appetite

alton brown’s homemade soft pretzels

When I view an episode of Good Eats everything always seems like a great idea during that half hour.  And then there are those episodes where I really, really, really want to make sure I absolutely have everything that I need to make the recipe right away.  Such was what happened after viewing his soft-pretzel episode. Alton had convinced me that, yes, I could make my own soft-prezels and no longer be held hostage by the expensive purveyors of baked goodness that prey on me at the mall hawking their over-priced inferior versions.

Not that I can recall the last time I bought a mall pretzel.  But Alton’s logic works.

I went to the Food Network website and grabbed the recipe.

The ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c 115° water
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 22 oz all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, melted
  • vegetable oil
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten in 1 Tbs water
  • Pretzel salt (I used more kosher salt)

Alton’s asks, so I proof the yeast. I throw the water with the salt and sugar into the bowl and the yeast on top. Five minutes later – bubbling:

(By the way, I love the burping yeast sock puppets on the show, they’re my favorite part of any episode that will involve that chemical reaction.)

Now it’s all about letting the machine do the work (old blue…may she rest in peace). I add the melted butter and the flour. You may notice Alton’s recipe does specify flour by weight – I’ve really become more and more attached to baking recipes that specify by weight as I learn to bake. From here, I let the mixer do it’s thing for 5 minutes until the dough is nice and ready:

Now it’s time for my dough to rise. Alton’s recipe calls for an hour, but this is fast-acting yeast – in 30 minutes, I’m more than doubled:

It’s now time for me to start making things that look vaguely of pretzels.  I tear the dough ball into 8 pieces and lightly oil my counter so I can roll these into ropes and form them into pretzel shapes. I’ll admit that the ropes are not as supple as I’m expecting them to be, but that’s okay. While I do this, I have water boiling on the stove and the oven preheating to 450°:

Now to pay attention to that 10 cups of boiling water.  Hint from me to you – do put in the baking soda while the water is hot and not at a full boil – if you think you see white crusty stuff on the sides of the pot, you do. I added the baking soda while the water was boiling and got a mini-science experiment. Luckily no spillover, but I laughed. I basically boiled each pretzel for 30 seconds and scooped it out with a wire scoop (this is what gives the pretzel texture):

I give the pretzels an egg wash and bake them for 13 minutes.  I get that picture at the beginning of the post.  Excellent, no?  Take a look at my super-awesome pretzel crumb!

These are a chewy, doughy piece of pretzel goodness as promised by Alton.  Is there any doubt his recipe wouldn’t deliver?


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This entry was posted on August 17, 2011 by in bread and tagged , , , , .

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