Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hard Pretzels are Easy Too

Here is the process for hard pretzels. As you can see the recipe is almost identical as for the soft ones only no shortening. This recipe makes a nice firm, crunchy pretzel that will keep for a week or longer in an airtight container and with these you don't have to worry about the baking soda bath though there is a bath.

For the pretzels you'll need:

1 3/4 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or white sugar if you don't have brown
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast(not the fast rise kind)
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
1 large whole egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

you'll also need

Vegetable or olive oil, for pan
a pan of boiling Water
Kosher or pretzel salt for sprinkling

I am assuming you have a stand mixer but if you don't this is all easily done by hand...just a
little harder.

Combine the warm water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top and whisk to combine. Allow this mixture to sit for 5 or 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to
foam. Add the flour and salt and using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well
combined. Turn off the mixer and let the flour soak up all the moisture or hydrate for 10-15
minutes. On medium speed knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the
bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. If you are doing this by hand this will probably take about
10 minutes of kneading.

Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with olive or vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately an hour or so until the dough has doubled in size. Depending on the temperature this can be shorter or longer but what you are looking for is the doubling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 4 half sheet pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside. If you don't have that many pans you can do this in two batches of even four. Just keep any unused dough covered so that it won't dry out while it is waiting.

Place enough water into a large pan( a roaster works well here) to come 1/3 of the way up the
sides of the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.

While your water is coming to a boil turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and
divide into about 1-ounce pieces, you should wind up with about 36 pieces. You can accomplish this without weighing by halving the dough then halving the halves to wind up with quarters. Divide each quarter into three and then each third into three again. Roll out each piece of dough into a 14 to 15-inch long stick using both hands to gently press and roll back and forth while spreading the hands. Remember when you used to make snakes from clay...same deal. At this point you can leave the sticks as sticks or form a traditional pretzel shape by forming a U with the dough, crossing the ends and sticking the ends down to the bottom of the U...you know what a pretzel looks like.

Place the sticks or formed pretzels on the sheet pans, 1/4-inch apart.

Now you need to give the pretzels a quick little bath. Gently place 6 to 8 pretzels(if you made traditional pretzel shapes then go with 3 or 4 ) at a time into the water for 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels back to the sheet pan, brush with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the kosher or pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown in color and hard, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.

These will store in an airtight container for at least 1 week or maybe longer...but they usually
won't last that long.

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