I combined the dry ingredients in my mixer using the paddle attachment. I poured in the yeast mixture and the cooled melted butter and mixed at the lowest speed for about a minute. I switched to the dough hook and mixed on the lowest speed for about 2 minutes, then let it rest for 5 minute to relax the gluten (and I guess if you are doing this by hand, it give the baker time to relax). While the dough was resting, I lightly floured my marble slab and oiled the bowl I was going to put the dough in. I turned my mixer to med-low and let the dough hook work for another 3 minutes. I did have to add a little more water as the dough seemed dry. I transferred the dough to my floured surface and kneaded for another minute, then formed it into a ball and placed it in my oiled bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and then into the fridge it went.
I was amazed and very proud of myself; by morning the dough had doubled in size just as the recipe said it would, so far so good. I must admit, I kept procrastinating all day to start playing with shaping the pretzels, I had never made a pretzel knot before! I finally had to do it since the party was that evening and if they did not turn out, I would have to make some other type of appetizer. (I work better under pressure sometimes) I started with the easy part first, making the baking soda solution that I was to dip the pretzels in before I baked them, some warm water, baking soda and an egg white. I then removed the dough from the fridge and using my bench cutter, I cut the dough into 16 pieces. Using my scale, I weighed each piece to make sure they were 2 ounces as the books says, adjusting some as needed. I figured since it was my first attempt, I should try to be as close to possible on size. In the end, I had 17 2 ounce balls. I wrapped two of the balls in plastic wrap and set them to the side to use as pretzels rolls and moved on to shaping the rest. It was actually easier than I thought after I got the hang of it. Since the directions say to roll each piece into a 17 inch rope, and I know that the marble slab I use for rolling out dough is 18 inches, if I rolled the ropes edge to edge, I would be pretty close, especially after I learned that if the dough keeps shrinking back after I rolled it, to stop fighting with it, and let it rest for a couple of minutes. The gluten has to relax. The directions also said to taper the last 3 inches of each roll, so I measured my fingers and pefect, the width of my four fingers is just less than 3 inches, boy did that make it easy. I worked with four pieces at a time, rolling one out, letting that one rest while I moved on to the next. After I rolled all four, the first one had relaxed and shrunk back a couple of inches, so I re-rolled it, tapering the ends and shaped it.
To my amazement, the first one turned out almost perfect. I thought I was on a "roll" but have to admit, I got cocky and started trying to shape them too quickly and the next couple were not so easy. I slowed down, took my time and before I knew it I had 15 mostly beautiful pretzels some not as pretty as others, but that was ok.
Each pretzel then got dipped in the baking soda solution and placed on the silicone lined baking sheet, then sprinkled lightly with sea salt. Into the 400 degree oven they went for 16 minutes. I did rotate the pans halfway through for even browning. While they were in the oven, I heated the baking soda solution on the stove. I had read to do this while I was doing some research on pretzels and thought I would try it for the pretzel rolls. When it reached a slight boil, I reduced the heat and shaped the 2 reserved balls, used my kitchen shears to snip a cross on the top and placed them in the simmering water for about a minute, flipping them to make sure they were coated top and bottom with the solution. I removed them with a slotted spoon, placed them on a lined baking sheet, cut side up and lightly salted them. By then the others were done, I removed them from the oven and popped in the "rolls". I moved the pretzels to a wire rack and let them cool for about 10 minutes. The rolls need about 20 minutes to turn a wonderful golden brown, they then went on the rack to cool. I could not wait to try a roll, but I did hold off for 10 minutes as I knew they would be better after they cooled. They were just as I remembered them in Williamsburg, crusty on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, yum! I took the pretzels to the party and served them with a warm cheese dip, they all went!
Below is a quick summary of the recipe from the book. I highly recommend purchasing the book as it has wonderful pictures to help with shaping the pretzels and some wonderful variations I can't wait to try. Maybe the next Saucy video should be making pretzels, what do you think?
(this recipe is adapted from Artisan Bread Every Day by Peter Reinhart)
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water -- 95 degrees
4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon melted butter
8 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups warm water
1 large egg white-- beaten
coarse sea salt
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Blend dry ingredients in bowl. Pour in yeast mixture and butter.Combine with paddle attachment for 1 minute, switch to dough hook and knead dough until slightly smoother, about 2 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Continue to knead with dough hook on medium low for 3 minutes, adjust water or flour as needed. Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead by hand 1 minute. Cover and let dough rise in fridge overnight or up to 4 days.
Cut dough into small pieces and roll into ropes. Twist ropes into pretzel shapes and place on silcone lined baking sheets. When all dough is shaped, combine water, baking soda and egg white in deep pan. Dip pretzels in solutions then place back and baking sheets and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 16 minutes or until browned. Cool on wire racks before serving.