I've wanted to make soft pretzels for a long time, but have always been a bit intimidated. They have a particular kind of a texture, and I never really thought I would be able to get that right.
I found a recipe in one of my bread machine cookbooks and it looked pretty simple. I adapted it a bit and tried it out - here's how I did it:
Soft Pretzel Hearts
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 package dry active yeast
- 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus a pinch or two more
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups very hot water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- Nonstick spray
- Coarse sea salt
In a large, non-reactive bowl, heat the milk in the microwave until lukewarm, about 110 degrees.
Add the yeast, stir, and let it activate, about 3 minutes.
Next add the confectioners’ sugar and 4 tablespoons of the butter and stir to combine.
Sift together the salt, bread flour, and all-purpose flour. Add to the yeast mixture and knead for about 8-10 minutes, using either the hook attachment of a stand mixer or your hands.
Add the dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, moist environment until double in size, about 1 hour.
After the dough has risen, divide it into 12 equal portions. (I use a food scale to make sure my portions are all exactly equal, but that's not necessary.)
Roll each portion out into a long, thin rope.
To form the pretzel, start by making the rope into a V.
Take the other two ends and join them, then twist into a heart shape.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Dissolve the baking soda into the very hot water and lightly oil 2 silpat covered baking sheets.
Take each pretzel and dip it into the baking soda-water bath and then place, seam side down, onto the oiled baking sheets, about 6 to each sheet.
Sprinkle each pretzel with coarse sea salt and bake in the oven until golden brown and puffy, about 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees halfway through the baking.
While the pretzels are baking ,melt the last 4 tablespoons of butter. Add a pinch or 2 of the confectioners' sugar to the butter and stir. Dip the salted side of each pretzel into the butter when they're done baking and serve.
Delicious. Soft and salty, and just delightful. Though there were quite a few steps, they were really easy to make. And they look fantastic! Who could ask for a better Valentine's Day treat than these?!