I am a HUGE Seinfeld fan—the show is a true staple to my 90’s sitcom line up. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t quote an episode, so naturally, I made pretzels in homage of one of my favorite episodes.
If you don’t watch Seinfeld, the “pretzel” episode centers around Kramer landing a line in a Woody Allen film. In true Kramer style, he over-thinks things and over-rehearses the line. The clip below is one of my all time favorites.
Anywhoooo, enough context… onto the recipe.
Soft Pretzels (makes 12 XL pretzels)
– 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 2 teaspoons kosher salt
– 1 package active dry yeast
– 4 ½ cups
– ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
– Vegetable oil, for pan
– 10 cups water
– 2/3 cup baking soda
– 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
– Pretzel salt, or other toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.)
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to turn foamy (as pictured). If your yeast hasn’t turned foamy at this point, do not proceed. This may be an indication that your yeast cells are no longer alive, and your dough will not rise.
Carefully add the flour to the yeast slurry. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until combined. Add butter. Change to medium speed and allow the dough to knead until it is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl (approximately 4-5 minutes). The dough should be smooth and elastic—this is an indication of gluten development and ideal for this type of dough. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
I use a marker to draw circles outlining the size of the dough. I only do this because I can never tell if my dough has actually doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope—the length will depend on how large you want to make the pretzels.
Make a “U” shape out of the rope, and holding the ends of the rope, cross the ends of the rope over each other. Cross them again, and press the ends onto the bottom of the “U”. Follow the pictures above. Once your pretzels are done, place them onto the parchment-line sheet and set aside. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with salt, or other toppings.
Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes for large pretzels, and 8 minutes for small pretzels. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
…. if you can’t get the pretzel shape down, you can always make pretzel twists. They’re much easier and faster to make; all you have to do is take two dough ropes and twist them together, and firmly pinch them at the ends.
… these are a little toasty, but you get the idea:)