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Fall Issue 2010

Soft Pretzels

by Kris Hughes

Everybody loves those soft buttery mall pretzels. You know the ones, those soft, chewey, salty pieces of heaven.When you walk through the food court at the mall you watch all those overly energetic teenagers deftly rolling, twisting and shaping those monster pretzels and you JUST HAVE TO HAVE ONE! Well, living out in the middle of southwestern Kansas you can’t always have one of those fresh baked little beauties, so I did what I always do, I took to my kitchen.

What came out was a super easy recipe that also fits perfectly into the football season. Here I have developed a recipe that is easy. I have also downsized these monster sized pretzels to a more manageable snack. Serve these bad boys up at your next football gathering and watch them fly off the plate.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cups warm water

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

Combine the first six ingredients in the food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to combine. Then while your food processor is running continuously, slowly pour in your water until the dough begins to pull away from the sides. If your dough comes together before you have added all the water it’s OK. The amount of water may differ depending on your brand of flour. Just add the water until the majority of the dough is in a big ball. If you need to, dump it on the counter and knead a few times to make it cohesive. Also you may have to stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Let the food processor run for about 30 more seconds. Put your dough in a bowl and set it in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size. (About an hour)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and put your water on to boil and add the baking soda. While waiting for the water to boil, separate your dough into approximately 16 pieces and then shape it any way you want. I fiddled around with mine until I found a simple little knot. You may want to go with the classic twist. You can also just roll out a cylinder and cut it into bite size pieces. Just remember that you are going to be boiling these so making letters and numbers probably won’t work.

Gently drop your design in the soda and water and let it boil for about 30 seconds. Place it on a lightly sprayed sheet pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Repeat with all pieces of dough. Bake for about 11- 13 minutes.

Serve with cheese sauce and/or a good spicy mustard. Or better yet, take some store bought cheese sauce and add a generous splash of your favorite hot sauce and a small squirt of good mustard. Your friends will love it and they’ll never be able to figure out how you made it! Serve with ice cole beer and your favorite football team on the tube.


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