I made homemade pretzels for my youngest son’s “last day of school” party. I’ve made them before (following this recipe) and they have become one of my son’s favorite 5-star treats. But the pretzels are only great on the day they are made; overnight they become just average. In the past, I had to wake up at 3AM to have them ready by 7AM. Because recent events have left me exhausted, I alter that perfect 5-star recipe so that I could get more sleep. My son and I prepared the dough, let it rise, and rolled out the pretzels the night before. We refrigerated the pre-made pretzels, and I only had to wake up at 5:30. I took them out of the fridge and let the dough come up to room temperature for an hour (while I did my regular shower and dressing routine). They only took about 30 minutes of work to finish boiling then baking them. Success!
I increase the original recipe by 50%, which increased the yield from 12 to 18 full-sized pretzels. I reduced the pretzel size by 1/3 which meant that I was able to make 27 pretzels; enough for everyone in the class. To accomplish this I rolled out 18 twenty-inch batons (in Day 1 – Step 9.) I cut off 13″ to make “O”s. I then twisted together 2 of the 7″ leftovers to form “X”s. However, there are also other ways in which I could have gotten the desired number of pretzels; for example reduce the pretzel size from 2-ounces down to 1-1/2 ounces. The only real requirement is that you do the math to ensure you’ll have enough before shaping the pretzels.
- But there is a huge difference between 3:30AM and 5:30AM, and for me 5:30 is just 30 minutes prior to my usual wake-up time. But I realize most people would consider that too early, and you will add only 45 minutes to your morning routine. Happy sleeping.
- Let them cool at least 10 to 15 minutes before packing them up, or the trapped moisture will make them soggy.
- While the pretzels are best while they are still warm from the oven, these were still described by my son’s classmates as “awesome”.
Cost: $2.85 for 18 full-size Pretzels.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Wake up at: 5:30 AM. Ready: 7:00 AM.
Chris Kimball’s original recipe for Soft Pretzels is here. The descriptions of how I cooked them over the two days are given below:
1-1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
4-1/2 cups (24-3/4 oz) bread flour
3 tablespoons baking soda
3 tablespoons coarse salt
- Stir the water and honey together in a Pyrex measuring cup, microwave for 1 minute. Ensure the water is about 105-degrees. Add yeast, whisk together and allow to hydrate for 10 minutes. You should see bubbling.
- Place the salt and flour and in bowl of standing mixer equipped with dough hook. With the mixer on 2 running, slow add the honey/water mixture.
- Increase the mixer speed to 6 and mix the dough for another 4 minutes; a ball of dough will form.
- Knead the dough by hand for 30 seconds on a lightly floured counter. Form into a smooth ball.
- Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and turn the dough to coat in the oil. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and allow rise at room temperature for 1 to 1-1/2 hours (depending upon room temperature); until it has doubled in size.
- Gently deflate the dough. Re-cover and allow to rise again for 30 to 40 minutes until it has doubled in size.
- Line two baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Divide the dough into 18 equal pieces (roughly 2-ounces each). Roll each piece into a 20″-long by 1/2″-wide rope. Roll them first to about 12”, let them rest while you roll the remaining. This extra relaxation time will make them easier to finish rolling. Shape each rope into a pretzel (or whatever shape you choose) and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight after shaping.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to come up to room temperature to 40 minutes. Try placing the baking sheets on-top of the stove as you pre-heat the oven, which will help to gently bring the dough up to room. (Note: Don’t mis-read that to think I’m suggesting inside the oven).
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Add 6 cups water into a 12-inch skillet. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil over high heat. It will heat faster if covered.
- Using a spatula (with slots), gently place the 3 to 4 pretzels into the boiling water, top-side down for 30 seconds. Using tongs and spatula, carefully flip over and boil the second side for another 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels, drain briefly on wire rack, then place back onto the prepared baking sheet. The pretzels won’t rise much so you can place them pretty close.
- Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake for 14 minutes, until the pretzels are well-browned, turning the baking sheet around halfway through baking.
- Let the pretzels from cool on a wire rack for 8 minutes (no longer to serve warm) or at room temperature.