Yesterday I shared with you the buffalo wings that we had for our appetizer supper. They were awesome, but we also had a soft pretzel with cheese sauce on the side. Equally delicious.
I have been planning to try these for a while. A tattered piece of paper with this recipe on it sat in my kitchen for months. It happens, I tear items out of magazines and throw them into a holding pattern for months at a time, waiting until the “perfect” moment, or most likely when it happens to fall in front of my eyes again during a cleaning spell.
Months ago, I tore this from a penzey’s magazine, after showing it to my husband who voiced his interest. To my surprise, when I returned from yoga class the other night, he had found this recipe and made the dough. Yep, he’s a keeper.
Then we whipped up a simple cheese sauce to go along with it. The pretzels had a slightly sweet, soft bready interior with a salty crunch to the exterior. Delicious!
Homemade Soft Pretzels with Cheese Sauce
- 11/4 Cups warm water
- 1 TB. rapid rise yeast (1 package is 21/4 tsp. so you’ll need 2 to get 1 TB.)
- 1/4 Cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 Cups bread flour
- 11/2-2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 4 Cups water
- 4 TB. baking soda
- Kosher salt or other seasonings as desired-get creative!
- Cheese sauce- recipe follows
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for a few minutes. Add the sugar and 2 cups bread flour, stirring well. Add the first cup of the all-purpose flour and stir well again. Turn out on the kitchen table and add as much of the flour as is needed to make a nice soft dough. Add a sprinkle at a time while kneading, as soon as the dough starts to stick. For the batch shown we used 11/2 cups all-purpose flour. Kneading about 10 minutes will give a nice smooth elastic dough ball. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. It doesn’t need to double in size but it should be substantially bigger after 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 500°. Divide the dough into 12-18 pieces depending on the size of pretzels you want. Roll each piece of dough into a “snake” about 18 inches in length. If you want perfect “toes” roll to 20 inches and flip the final inch in on itself on both ends and roll a bit until smooth. Twist into pretzels. Pinch the “toes”—this is important to keep the pretzel from unfolding in the boiling water. The pinch seems dramatic when you do it but you can hardly tell in the finished pretzel. Bring the 4 cups of water to a low boil. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve. Dip each pretzel in the water-baking soda mixture, one at a time, for 5-10 seconds, making sure to get the water over the top of the pretzel—a slotted spoon works well for this. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper (make sure you shake off most of the water, you don’t want your pretzels sitting in puddles of water), sprinkle with salt or other toppings as desired (the seasonings won’t stick if the pretzel has completely dried off) and bake at 500° for 6-8 minutes. The pretzels will look done on top before they are brown on the bottom, so if in doubt use a spatula to lift and look. Once you’ve done it a few times in your oven, you’ll know exactly when they’re perfect. Remove quickly from the parchment to a cooling rack by sliding under the pretzel with a sturdy spatula with a quick firm motion. Sometimes they stick.
Alternate baking method: Sprinkle your pizza stone with cornmeal, place in the oven and preheat to 500°. After you remove the pretzels from the boiling water, carefully place on the hot stone and bake for 5 minutes. The end result is a pretzel with a crispier bottom.
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cheese (any variety, we used sharp cheddar)
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
Put a saucepan over medium heat. Wait for it to come to temperature then add the butter and wait for it to melt. If it begins to spit or bubble, nudge the heat down. We want the butter to melt smoothly not brown or burn. Add the flour, and stir continuously for 3 minutes. You don’t want it to sit still or it will brown. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5 – 8 minutes. Stir in the cheese and cayenne. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly before serving.