Homemade Bavarian Pretzels

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  24 pretzels
Prep Time:  45 minutes Cook Time:  25 minutes

Homemade Bavarian Pretzels

This delicious soft pretzel recipe is adapted from Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein, but don’t be concerned about having enough time to get this all done just before Game Day or a party. I use an artisanal bakery-style overnight rise for the dough, which divides the work over two days and adds to the flavor. Start the day before and let the dough rise overnight, and be sure to allow 30 minutes for a second rise the next day.

Ingredients

2½ cups warm water

2 packages (4½ teaspoons/14 grams) active dry yeast

4½ cups (585 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 cup (144 grams) whole-wheat flour

½ cup (103 grams) firmly packed brown sugar (dark or light)

1 tablespoon barley malt syrup, sorghum syrup or blackstrap molasses

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons  (12 grams) dry mustard powder

1 tablespoon (11 grams) kosher salt

6 tablespoons baking soda

3 quarts water

Kosher salt or pretzel salt, to top, optional

 

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the water and yeast and mix at low speed to blend. Let stand for 5 to 7 minutes, until it bubbles.
  2. Add the white and whole-wheat flours, sugar, syrup, oil, mustard, and salt, and mix at very low speed (no reason to “wear” flour, and at a higher speed, there’s a potential for it to become airborne) until incorporated. Switch the attachment to the dough hook and knead for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the mixture comes away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Place the dough into a large mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (about 10 hours). It will have almost doubled in size; no need to knead or deflate the dough. Remove it from the fridge and let stand, still covered, until it reaches room temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, dust a work surface with flour. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats and position them near the work surface.
  5. Turn the dough out into the work surface and divide it into 24 (2-ounce) pieces.  Roll each into a ¼ inch wide rope shape. If you want pretzel sticks, leave them as they are and place on the prepared baking sheets. If you prefer a traditional pretzel shape, grasp a rope of dough with one end in each hand, fold inward so that they almost make a rounded heart shape, but instead of having the ends meet at the top of the “heart,” pull them across and down to the opposite side of the rope. Place on the prepared baking sheets. (We made them both ways in the Weiser Test Kitchen.) Continue with all of the dough, making sure to leave enough room for the pretzels to expand. Cover the sheets with kitchen towels and set aside to rise in a warm part of the kitchen for 25 to 30 minutes, until they have nearly doubled in size.
  6. Heat 3 quarts of water in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the baking soda and mix well to dissolve. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep warm. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F.
  7. Gently place the pretzels into the simmering water, one at a time, turn with a slotted spoon or kitchen spider, and transfer back to the baking sheet. (They only need a dunk—5 seconds or less.) Continue with the remaining pretzels, spacing them about 2 inches apart, until the first baking sheet is filled. (You should have 12 on the sheet.)  If you are using salt or any other topping, sprinkle it on now.
  8. As each baking sheet is filled, place it the oven, and bake for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until dark golden brown (or as dark as desired). Repeat with the second baking sheet.
  9. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

These are best served warm from the oven, but they freeze well; reheat in a 350°F oven, covered with foil for the first 4 to 5 minutes. They are also tasty at room temperature, but keep only about one day.

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