Homemade PretzelsNew York Style
There is nothing quite like a homemade pretzel straight from the oven: the warm, soft, chewy bread with a glossy deep brown exterior and lumps of rock salt is a delight in the mouth.
Looking back, I remember eating a real New Yorken pretzel for the first time. I was eight at the time, it was a freezing day in New York city and we passed a pretzel vendour. Firstly, I was astounded by the size of them (*note: at the time, I thought pretzels came in plastic packets, were small and crunchy and generally [not exclusively] served at adult parties and were, in my opinion, fancier than crisps). Secondly, I was delighted that they served them warm! Being South African, I was not accustomed to the harsh New York winter wind – helluva icy! So, eating something warm was a treat on its own, however eating something as delicious as a pretzel, whole other ballgame. The texture, the bits of salt and even the shape all make it a perfect snack (especially for an eight-year old who had been missing out her whole life).
To some it might seem a little finicky and tricky to make these pretzels, but once you start the recipe it actually seems a lot less daunting and uncomplicated. Besides, the taste totally out-weighs any qualms you might have making these delicious, warm, salty, chewy treats. Also, they are perfect served with mustard and a beer, and are even great when cooled – but you must, at least, for the eight-year old still in me, try one straight out of the oven!
Prep time: 1 ½ hours
cooking time: 25 mins
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2tsp dry active yeast
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup melted butter
10 cups water
¾ cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbs water
course salt, for sprinkling
Combine the water and sugar 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, salt and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on a low speed until well-combined. Change to a medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled, large bowl. Cover with cling film and place in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with baking paper.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil
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 65cm long 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 baking paper-lined 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 the pretzels to the sheet pans. Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 12–14 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes. Serve with mustard.