My Pretzel recipe is a derivative of a copycat recipe of Annie’s Pretzels which I got off of the internet. https://www.food.com/recipe/auntie-annes-pretzels-copycat-59462 The copycat recipe doesn’t have enough fat content to my taste – so I substituted/added a few ingredients to kick it up a notch. (a little Emeril Lagasse Lingo) It gives the dough better elasticity, improved taste and a nice crust. You can use the original copycat if you prefer. Taste is a subjective thing – so go with what satisfies your comfort level the most.
I like to listen to some happy uplifting Mostly 80s music to lighten the mood when I create stuff — so here ya go. . https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/painting-shit-playlist/pl.u-4JomXK2FdeVPbx
Ingredients you might need for JW’s Pretzel Dough:
- 2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Cup Warm Water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar (or double sugar and just add some molasses to taste if you don’t have any dark brown sugar)
- (you can also use Truvia Blend sugars (white and brown) if you have some concern about refined sugar – just use the measurement conversion on the back of the Truvia bag. The other option is to use raw sugar)
- ¼ cup Heavy Whipping Cream (the extra fat content helps soften the dough)
- Bread machines typically call for Dry Milk. It works. But Heavy Whipping Cream is the bomb.
- 2 Tbsp Softened Butter (not only softens dough, but provides a good crust texture)
- 1 Fresh Pasture raised chicken egg (you’ll notice the yolk is dark yellow, not light yellow) or 2 Tbsp Freeze Dried Egg (the freeze dried egg gives the same effect, but add a bit more heavy whipping cream to make up the difference in moisture)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ½ to 1 cup of bread flour (go with ½ cup for a softer dough or 1 cup for a slightly denser dough)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 sauce pan of boiling water (water about 3 or 4 inches deep)
- 2 Tbsp of Baking Soda
- ½ stick of melted butter – to baste the baked pretzels when out of the oven.
- Course ground salt after you butter the dark brown pretzels
- 1/2 stick of melted butter to baste the dark brown pretzels
- course ground salt
Just use common sense.
I’ve used a stand mixer and a bread machine (dough cycle) to make this dough. You’ll get consistent results with either tool – or use the old fashioned wooden spoon and your hands to mix the dough using any technique that your most familiar with and you’ll have good results. The instructions below are for hand mixing – old school. Aunt Nancy (my Jedi Master) Style.
Steps JW uses when making the dough:
- Proof the yeast in warm water and sugars. (feed the yeast!)
- Assemble the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.
- If the yeast is bubbly when you’re done mixing the dry ingredients, you’re golden.
- Pour the dry ingredients on your clean mixing surface, make a well in the middle.
- Add all of the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients.
- Pour a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee. Drink.
- Go to work. Mix the dough. It will be sticky. Don’t add more flour if you’re tempted — trust the flour — just knead it for about 15 minutes by hand – it will turn soft as the flour gluten for
- Use a machine if this bugs you because you’re OCD and you freak out because you have sticky fingers.
- Put in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towl, put in a warmish place and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Drink some more wine. Or have a snack of cheese or something. We’re waiting for the gluten to form bonds and make the dough easier to handle.
- Take the dough out and knead it another 15-20 minutes. Now it’s ready for the first rise.
- Set it aside, covered, in a warm place – let it rise about a 45 minutes – it should be near double in volume.
- Knock it down, lightly knead it again, and then let it rise one more time.
- All told – this is about 2 hours of prep time.
- The 2nd rise is optional if you don’t have time – but it adds some extra volume if you like your finished product to have air bubbles in it.
At this stage, you can use the dough for most any sweet bread variation – but we’re going to make Pretzel fingers. You can also make knot pretzels or any other soft pretzels, pretzel hamburger buns, pretzel hot dog buns, and even just plain old sweet dinner rolls.
Cut your Pretzel Fingers (not your actual fingers)
It’s time to get serious. Clean off your kitchen island and make sure it doesn’t have any dog hairs on it. In fact, put the dogs outside. Don’t let them in. They’ll only whine and beg and give you googly sad eyes and make you feel guilty. We don’t have time for that. We’re making pretzel fingers. (insert a Tim Allen “Tool Time” sound here)
- On the clean and dog hair free kitchen island, drop a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour and swoosh it around a bit — a light dusting. Your surface should be about 3 foot wide and as long as your island — 5 or 6 feet is good. If not that long – well, adjust the amount of dough below and just make shorter ropes of dough.
- Get a couple of extra large baking sheet pans – lined with parchment paper or those really nice silicone non-stick liners (totally worth it!)
- Put a sauce pan of water 3 or 4 inches deep on the stove now — it will need to be boiling when you’re done cutting the fingers.
- Put the dough on the surface – use a bread scraper and cut the dough into quarters.
- Each quarter will be rolled into a rope and cut into 1 inch sets segments. All told, you’ll get about 100 pretzel fingers from the four ropes.
- Roll the rope about (it should be soft and elastic) – if you use a denser dough, you can also twister the rope for a nice twirled effect. BUT after you get the rope rolled aout — about the same diameter as your finger (hence the name) use the scraper and start slicing the little finger nuggets.
- After you cut the fingers and have them on your cookie baking sheet pans — you can let them rest if the water is not yet boiling.
The Pretzel Step
- Drop 2 Tbsp of Baking Soda into the boiling water, let it come to boil again.
- Drop 4-5 fingers into the boiling water for not more than 30 seconds.
- Take out with a slotted spoon and place back on cookie sheet. Repeat until all done – should be about 2 XL cookie baking sheets — about 50 fingers per sheet.
- Bake at 400 degrees (15-20 minutes) or 450 degrees (10 minutes) (depends on your over to be honest — I bake at 400 degrees for at least 20 minutes — and then every 3 minutes take a look. Bake until golden brown.
- These fingers go from light brown to dark brown when they hit that stage pretty quick … you want them to be a very DARK brown. Not tan (undercooked).
- Brush with melted butter while they are hot out of the oven.
- Drop some course ground salt on them while the butter is wet.
- (secret: you can also drop salt on them when they are water wet before you bake them – you’ll get some nice stretchy effects on the dough as they bake if you do this – and salt a little bit again after you button them when they come out if desired)
One word of caution: Do NOT put these in a tight container while they are hot. The moisture inside is still streaming — and the result will be wet dog treats (that’s what you’ll have) — not pretzel bites with a crust. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you have a bread warmer (electric warming blanket in a basket, or just cloth lined serving dish — better than putting them in a closed bag.
I hope that if you try this recipe that you’ll have fun with it. It’s one of those comfort foods that will make your house smell and your family will curse you because they are on a diet.
Oh,…. don’t forget to let the dogs back in.