Yesterday was Pretzel Day.
Most likely inspired by either an episode of The Office or an overpriced movie theater pretzel, Pretzel Day is slowly becoming something like a holiday around the Poppe household. I use the word “tradition” loosely when I think about our tendency to want to make pretzels. When we lived in the townhouse before we bought this house, our kitchen was teeny tiny. We had maybe 3 and a half little slabs of open counter space, and a small wooden table that seats 4 as our workspace.
We decided randomly last June to make our own pretzels. Despite our tiny workspace, the pretzels we made still turned out amazing. With how easy and cheap they are to make, we knew we’d be making them again soon.
Fast forward one year. I don’t know what it is about spring/summer, but our appetites kicked in and we decided to make them again this weekend. It’s kind of funny because I realized it had been almost exactly a year since we made them, thereby indicating to me that this was some kind of “tradition”. We both agreed it would be fun to keep it going for when we had kids. They’d probably think it’s fun. Either that, or they would think we are completely dorky and lame. Probably the latter.
I have to admit that for the time being we just make our pretzels the basic old fashion way. Salted with cheese dipping sauce. Nothing elaborate or amazing, but I’m sure we’ll venture off into that realm for next year’s Pretzel Day. I am already thinking of sweet pretzels. Frosting? Cinnamon? Crack? mmmm….
Buttery Soft Pretzels (Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com)
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 4 cups hot water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping
Homemade Cheese Dipping Sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
- When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.
- Salivate until you pass out from excitement.
Process (Cheese sauce for dipping)
- In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter or margarine. Mix in flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir continually until the mixture is simmering.
- Slowly pour milk into the mixture. Continue stirring over a medium heat until the mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese and mustard. Continue stirring until all of the cheese is melted and the dip is smooth. Serve warm after adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Worship the end result, that is cheesy saucy greatness.
Our pretzels turned out lighter last year, but probably out of fear of burning the bottoms like we did before. I prefer them a little darker, but having them lighter makes them a lot softer and chewier, which is always a good thing in the world of homemade pretzels.
This recipe takes about an hour and a half from start to finish, but the possibilities are endless. Instead of cheese, you could dip in mustards or aioli sauces. You could sprinkle cinnamon and honey on the pretzels for a sweeter taste, or infuse the dough with something delicious and naughty like crumbled bacon bits and cheese.
364 days, until the next Pretzel Day.