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Bavarian Pretzels

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Master the classic pretzel—crusted with salt, hard and brown on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside—then let your imagination run wild with sweet and savory versions of the German staple.

Makes: varies with prezel size

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg white
  • two envelopes active dry yeast
  • coarse pretzel salt

Instructions:

• Dissolve the sugar and yeast into 2 cups of lukewarm water (about 110 degrees). Let the yeast bubble and foam for a few minutes.

• Meanwhile, using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix the salt, softened butter, two eggs and 3 to 4 cups of the flour on low speed. (If you don’t have a mixer, you can use an old-fashioned spoon and bowl combo, but be prepared for a workout.) Add the yeast mixture and the remaining flour, and mix until the dough forms a moist, slightly sticky ball. Knead the dough for several minutes by hand on a lightly floured surface.

• Pull pieces of dough into ropes, rolling them between your hands to about 12 inches long and as thin as a pencil. (Remember, length and diameter have more to do with aesthetics than taste, so don’t sweat it if you’re unable to master rolling right off the bat.)

• To make a classic pretzel, form the rope into a U-shape, cross one tip over the other, twist the crossed tips around once, and fold the top over the base of the U. (If shaping isn’t your thing, you can always make sticks, rings or even bite-sized nuggets.)  

• Place pretzels on greased cookie sheets (see note). In a small bowl, whisk an egg white with a few ounces of water. Paint the tops of the pretzels with a brush and sprinkle with pretzel salt.

• Bake at 400 degrees 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.


Note: Consider dunking pretzels in an alkali bath before adding salt and baking (although skipping the bath is just fine). The process does give you a crispy, bagel-like outer crust while preserving a soft, doughy inside. Most home chefs use baking soda (about 3 tablespoons) in a shallow pan filled with hot water about two inches high. Give each pretzel only a quick dunk—in and out of the water, then straight to the oven.
 


 

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