Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is That A Wood Fired Soft Pretzel?

I woke up to a dreary cold day with a north wind (according to the weather man)! This is not what I wanted in mid June with my pool and flowers looking so good. I am off from work and can't enjoy my vacation spot in my backyard! But with a little thought I decided this is perfect weather for soft pretzels in the brick oven! I usually wait until fall or late summer when the evening are a little cool for pretzel baking.
I searched for my recipe and grabbed my recipe book and enjoyed the day anyway.
I use a recipe I found on line for the dough and learned some good tricks from my book. The book is called The Pretzel Cookbook by Priscilla Warren. I like all the different types of pretzels and many different recipes in the book. I have made the dough a few times from the book and it is a nice dough and very easy. Today I made a copycat recipe from the internet that is similar to Auntie Annie's from the mall.    
 Karl starts a nice hot fire and lets it burn down to hot coals. He pushes the coals to the back and lets the oven cool down a bit. The temperature is about is about 400 degrees when we bake the pretzels. I have not mastered pretty pretzels! Karl has not mastered the best way of baking! We some times bake them right on the brick, this works well but they do fall apart and stick. We some times bake them on a baking sheet first and then transfer to the brick, they still stick and fall apart a little! No one seems to care how they look because they taste really really good...  
Rolling the dough is fun and frustrating. The dough wants to shrink and we are still not good at a true pretzel shape. The rolled pretzel also must be dipped in baking soda and hot water and if it looked pretty before this dipping it does not look pretty after! To transfer them from the baking sheet to the oven is another step that causes them to look even less like a pretzel. After they bake and puff up they do look look funny but the smell of fresh hot pretzels baking in your own backyard is unbelievable!  I like them best when they are dipped in melted sweat cream butter and covered in cinnamon and sugar after baking. I also dip the pretzels in butter and sprinkle with kosher salt for a traditional pretzel. I wish I knew someone who worked at a pretzel place and could come and teach me. Anyone out there willing to give me a few tips?
So here is my recipe and some pictures. I hope you go ahead and try this yourself. If they look better then mine let me know! I hope they taste as yummy as mine and you have as much fun as we do. You will need a Round Boy Oven to make them just like mine and remember I know where you can get one! If you are interested in our ovens feel free to leave a comment and I will help you with your questions and how to purchase one.

Soft Pretzel Recipe
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup bread flour
3 cups regular flour
2 cups Warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
to taste coarse salt
4 tablespoons butter (melted)


Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water in mixing bowl; stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt and stir to dissolve; add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise at least 1/2 hour.

While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda water bath with 2 cups warm water and 2 Tbsp baking soda. Be certain to stir often. After dough has risen, pinch off bits of dough and roll into a long rope* (about 1/2 inch or less thick) and shape. Dip pretzel in soda solution and place on greased baking sheet. Allow pretzels to rise again. Bake in 450 oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Brush with melted butter and enjoy!

Toppings: after you brush with butter try sprinkling with coarse salt. or for Auntie Anne's famous Cinnamon Sugar, try melting a stick of butter in a shallow bowl (big enough to fit the entire pretzel) and in another shallow bowl make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Dip the pretzel into the butter, coating both sides generously. Then dip again into the cinnamon mixture. Enjoy!

* The longer and thinner you can make the dough rope, the more like Auntie Annie's they will be.

*Sweet butter, not regular butter, is one of her secrets!
This recipe from CDKitchen for Aunt Annie's Soft Pretzels serves/makes 12


  This is the finished pretzels dipped in butter and sugar and cinnamon also traditional with butter and kosher salt. They lasted about 15 minutes! Karl, Amanda and I enjoyed them and it made the cool weather in June and a day off from work a perfect day....

Thursday, June 3, 2010