Offbeat Bites: Fat Fluffy Pretzels

Chef’s note: This recipe calls to mind those classic mall pretzels, drenched in hot butter and sprinkled with a good amount of salt. Yet these are fatter and tastier, balanced with a fluffy white interior and a golden-crisp, crunchy-but-chewy exterior. These are delicious when served when served alongside classic German mustard and sauerbraten.

For a sweet version of these, click here, or check out this link for pretzel sticks instead. Click here for a spicy pretzel dipping sauce recipe to accompany the pretzel sticks.

The rapid rising yeast makes for nice, fat pretzels.
The rapid rising yeast makes for nice, fat pretzels.

Ingredients:

  • warm water, separated into 2 tablespoons, 1 ⅓ cups, and 1 ½ quarts

  • 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons of fast-acting active dry yeast (one package)

  • ⅛ of teaspoon salt

  • 4 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup of baking soda

  • Kosher salt, for topping

The mixture should have an entirely liquid consistency once the yeast is dissolved, even if the yeast doesn't appear to be dissolved.
The mixture should have an entirely liquid consistency once the yeast is dissolved, even if the yeast doesn’t appear to be dissolved.

Stir together the 2 tablespoons water and brown sugar. Stir in the yeast, until dissolved. Stir in 1 ⅓ cups of water, and add salt.

It shouldn't take long for the mixture to form into a nice dough.
It shouldn’t take long for the mixture to form into a nice dough.

Add flour, then turn out the mixture onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture has become a smooth, elastic dough.

Don’t knead the individual pieces; over kneading would lead to less fluffy pretzels.
Don’t knead the individual pieces; over kneading would lead to less fluffy pretzels.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces.

Use both of your flattened palms to roll the dough into a log, moving from the center outwards.
Use both of your flattened palms to roll the dough into a log, moving from the center outwards.

Roll a piece into a long, thick log shape, with the middle a little bit thicker than the rest of the log.

u shape

Bring both ends up to form a U-shape.

first twist

Cross the ends.

second twist

Twist the ends, crossing them again.

bring twist down

Bring the ends back down to the rest of the loop.

The warmer the air, the more the dough will rise.
The warmer the air, the more the dough will rise.

Place the pretzel shape aside on a lightly floured surface. Repeat for the remaining 7 pieces of dough, then let them all sit for about 10 minutes to rise a little bit.

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 ½ quarts of water together with the baking soda to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.

Use the spatula to gently keep the pretzel underwater.
Use the spatula to gently keep the pretzel underwater.

Dunk a pretzel in the simmering water for about 15 seconds, using a large slotted spatula.

Remove the pretzel from the water, briefly letting the water drain from the spatula, then set it aside on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Repeat the previous two steps for the remaining 7 pretzels.

The slit cut into the lower loop allows for the dough to rise more when baking.
The slit cut into the lower loop allows for the dough to rise more when baking.

Using a sharp knife, slit the thickest part of each pretzel loop open lengthwise. Sprinkle the top of each pretzel with Kosher salt as desired.

They only vaguely resemble their initial shapes at this point, but that hardly matters when they’re so fluffy.
They only vaguely resemble their initial shapes at this point, but that hardly matters when they’re so fluffy.

Bake for 18 to 19 minutes, or until dark golden brown.

These pretzels is even more appetizing with butter slathered on top.
These pretzels are even more appetizing with butter slathered on top.

Serve warm with butter or mustard.

All photos by Lauren Quinn

 

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