Fang Food: Pretzels

What did I learn this weekend? Well, I learned I'm terrible at rolling out pretzels. Go figure

After the Cold Stone ice cream that I always get at the ballpark, my favorite snack to get at the stadium is a pretzel. I just love 'em. They're chewy, and salty, and bready, and they're just great. So in my naivete, I decided I would make them for Fang Food this week. Turns out, pretzels are kind of tricky. Also, they take a while, about eight hours today. It would probably speed up after practice, but I'm not sure. However, the return on investment is amazing. If none of you ever make them, I won't blame you.

Before I go much further, I have to give a big shout-out to my dad. When I failed miserably at rolling out the dough, he thankfully came over and did maybe, possibly all of them for me because I could just not get them to work right. Thanks Dad. And now, the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour; more as needed
  • 2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 Tbsp. baking
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. pretzel or coarse salt

Directions

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large mixing bowl with a whisk), combine the yeast and 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water, about 95 degrees F, and let stand until dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, sugar, oil, and salt. Mix on low speed (or with a wooden spoon) until the ingredients are hydrated and form a coarse ball of dough, 2 to 3 minutes. Add more water as needed, if all of the flour is not incorporated into the dough.
  2. Increase the speed to medium low and mix (or knead by hand on a lightly oiled surface) until the dough becomes smooth, supple, and elastic, about 3 minutes. The dough should be soft but only slightly tacky; if it seems sticky or very tacky, sprinkle in more flour, as needed. If using a stand mixer, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and knead by hand for a few more seconds. Form the dough into a ball, transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until it's about 1 1/2 times its original size, 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Lightly mist a work surface with oil and transfer the dough to it. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces (about 6 oz. each). Form each piece into a ball, lightly mist with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap; let rest on the work surface at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows the dough to relax, and makes them slightly less tough. Line a large baking sheet with lightly oiled parchment or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
  4. Lightly oil a work surface and, using your palms and fingers, roll each piece of dough on the work surface into a rope that's about 30 inches long and 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. If the dough resists or shrinks back, let it rest for a few minutes while you work on other pieces; short rests will let the dough relax enough to allow to roll it out the rest of the way..Working with 1 dough rope at a time, shape it into a large U that's 5 to 7 inches across with the curve closest to you. Take the 2 ends of the rope and cross one over the other so it makes an 'x' about three inches from the end. Twist the ends of the rope, shortening the overhang to about 2 inches. Next, pull the twisted end section toward you and fold it down over the bottom curve of the U so the ends are a couple of inches apart and overhang the bottom by about 1/4 inch.
  5. Carefully transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheet with about an inch apart. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard, at least 2 hours but up to 3 weeks.Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Brush thepretzels once more with egg.
  6. Lightly sprinkle the pretzels with the salt. Set the baking sheet of pretzels on another baking sheet (double-pan them) to prevent the bottoms of the pretzels from browning too quickly. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until rich, deep mahogany-brown for lye-dipped pretzels or dark golden-brown for baking-soda-dipped pretzels, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pretzels to a rack and cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Well, that was exhausting. I served my pretzels with some homemade mustard (which wasn't very good, so I'm not going to give you the recipe. Maybe another post) and it would probably be pretty good with some sort of spicy cheese sauce. Thus ends another edition of Fang Food! Hope you enjoyed this one as much I enjoyed eating the pretzels. Go Dbacks!

Fang Food is a series of weekly baseball food articles written by prwhitaker1 (Whit), imstillhungry95 (Blake) and Turambar (Patrick). Check out the archive of past articles! Questions, comments, suggestions, concerns? Email us at fangfood@gmail.com or contact us on Facebook.

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