Having just returned from Central Europe, this morning (at 5:30 am, thanks jetlag!) I decided to try and reproduce the soft, doughy pretzels of Germany with my bread machine. I’m pretty pleased with the results. Here’s the recipe.
* 1 1/4 cups water
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 tablespoon oil
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* Three and one-half cups bread flour
* 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
* 1 cup baking soda
* 1 gallon boiling water
* 1 egg white
* 1 tablespoon water
* Kosher salt for topping (and/or seeds)
* Place the ingredients in a bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Use the dough setting.
* Take the dough and roll out into one big rectangle. Slice it into 12 to 14 pieces and roll into ropes. Shape them into traditional pretzel shapes, or make pretzel bites or buns.
* Bake the baking soda on tin foil in 250-degree oven for 2 hours (during dough cycle). Boil water with baking soda. Turn heat off. Dip the pretzels in the boiling soda water bath for 15 seconds (use a slotted spoon) and place the pretzels on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Baking the baking soda doubles the PH, so be careful not to get any on your hands. This is what creates the beautiful brown color.
* Brush your pretzels with a mixture of egg white and water. Sprinkle with salt (or other seedy toppings). Bake in 400-degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
I’m still struggling with how to store these. I’ve learned that a soft pretzel has a high crust:crumb ratio and can’t easily be stored for more than twelve hours. That is why they are bought fresh daily in Europe. Suggestions from the Cooking Stack Exchange include not to salt the pretzel, wrap it in a dish cloth, and then put them in a paper bag. SavvyEat recommends freezing the completely cooled pretzels, and then baking them at 450 degress for five minutes.