“Now you’ll be glad to know the president will practice safe snacks.” —First Lady Laura Bush, talking about Bush’s pretzel mishap, on the Tonight Show
A few of my lovely coworkers have been reading this blog. (Thanks guys!) And, not surprisingly, one of them inquired when I was going to bring something off the list to share at work. (Our office has a healthy rotation of regular carb sharing) In fact, he even made a couple suggestions, since obviously, no one wants to share lobster at the office. Well…maybe at this office, but not at our office.
So I took the hint and started looking at the list.
I was browsing some back issues of Everyday Food by Martha Stewart and stumbled upon this recipe for Sweet Soft Pretzels. Perfect! I can make something off the list AND have a carb-licious treat to go with everyone’s morning coffee.
The pretzels start with a basic dough recipe, which Martha supplies here. And of course, Martha’s recipe is totally simple and versatile. (Pretzels in the morning, pizza for dinner!) The dough is really easy: mix the water and yeast and let sit for a few minutes. Then whisk in the sugar, oil and salt. Finally add the flour and mix until it forms a sticky ball. Like this:
Cover and let the dough rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size. For some reason, this is always thrilling to me. Coming back an hour later and seeing it grow like some crazy science experiment…it’s just weirdly exciting!
A quick note: I made the dough the night before making my pretzels so it would have time to rise. I also timed my walk the next with the flyover pup around the dough. The dough was resting while we were busy barking at joggers in our neighborhood. This way I could make fresh pretzels for work without having to get up at 4am.
Ok, so we have the dough…now on to pretzels! I separated the dough in half and mixed 1 half with chocolate chips and one half with some golden raisins. Then let it rest again while walking my fluffy friend.
After the dough has risen, I used 1/8 of each half to make the individual pretzels. The hardest part was pulling and rolling the stretchy dough into a thin enough length to then form a pretzel. I found that I was stretching, forming into a pretzel, then holding it up to stretch it again so it would be thin enough.
NOTE: the Everyday Food recipe has a super simple diagram of how to make a pretzel shape. (Make a U shape, cross the long ends, the bring down to the bottom of the U). So used that if you need help. Despite having watched the pretzel makers at the mall, I’m 95% sure I would have had trouble figuring out the process. I can’t even draw a pretzel!
Our pretzels take another short rest for about 20 minutes. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. I made my lunch for work and steamed my pants during this time. In case you care.
Once the water is boiling, add the baking soda to the water. The pretzels get boiled, in batches, for a minute or two until they are puffed up and shiny.
Drain for a minute on a cooling rack and sprinkle with sugar. I also sprinkled the raisin ones with cinnamon and a little brown sugar.
Now into the 475° oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
How did they taste? A little on the chewy side and needed a little more crunch on the outside, but the dough has a great flavor! The boiling before baking gives them the pretzel texture and you could taste the hint of baking soda from the water; I’m pretty sure that process is vital to the “pretzel-y” flavor that’s instantly recognizable. A little peer pressure did lead to a yummy morning snack.
UNFORESEEN BONUS: The pretzels got a warm but not overly enthusiastic reception at the office. Meaning: I got to eat three of them without feeling like I was doing a poor job of sharing.
I can’t wait to try these again with savory and salty flavors. And maybe share one with Don Draper next time he is in the office. (Just kidding, Handsome Husband! Sort of…)
xoxo Flyover Foodie