This fall when I was at the Springfield Antique Market my snack of choice was the delicious homemade pretzels that the amish were making on a folding table under the tent. They were hot, soft and doughy, covered in delicious crunchy salt and served with a rich cheese sauce. There were no tables available so my pal Ashley and I sat on the ground and took a break before hitting the market for another round.
I don’t know if it’s because we were absolutely starving or if it’s because they were just that good but I still think about those delicious homemade pretzels on a cold day. There are three things I want to master before spring comes. The bagel, the soft pretzel and the croissant. The croissant seems the most intimidating with its many layers and chilling and rising. I thought the pretzel might be an easier start. I underestimated these little buggers.
The dough was trickier than I thought. I came in all cocky after another successful round of making my favorite white bread
The white bread first has the yeast mixed into the water alone. This pretzel recipe from Tupelo Honey had milk mixed with white sugar and brown sugar before sprinkling the yeast on top of the liquid mix. It took a good 10 minutes for the cap to form on the yeast.
Before I get too into the details of the homemade pretzels let’s pause and talk about my love for the restaurant Tupelo Honey. When they first opened they invited me to lunch and I ended up going back 2 more times that day. One night at dinner they gifted me with all three of their cookbooks and I have to say, they are three of my all time favorites right now.
The recipes always turn out and are incredibly flavorful. Some favorites we’ve made is the pineapple sweet potatoes, blackened chicken pot pie and amazing garlic chicken wings.
If you are in Grand Rapids or around any of their other locations, I highly recommend stopping in. Some of my favorites at the restaurant are the rosemary pork cracklins, the brussel sprouts, the banana pudding and of course pimento cheese.
The book suggested making the pimento cheese into a fondu but I ate so much of it as is that I didn’t make it to the fondu point. But there is always tomorrow right?
Tips and tricks for making the pretzel dough:
Round one of this dough was very crumbly. I thought perhaps I didn’t get the milk up to the right temp and I potentially killed the yeast? Regardless I let it rest by the fire (if you don’t have access to a fireplace a non drafty, warm spot will do). I always get a tea towel wet with hot water, wring it out and layer it over the bowl with plastic wrap underneath. The dough sat for about an hour and rose just a tiny bit.
I was going to scrap it but I thought for the sake of experimenting I’ll make another batch and bake them both, see what happens.
I made a second batch according to the recipe and it had the same crumbly texture. The dough did not want to seem to stick together. I thought what could go wrong? So with the dough hook attachment going on my mixer I slowly added water 1 tsp at a time until the dough was soft, slightly sticky and puffy.
I let it rise for hour next to the first batch (which was going on hour two) and decided to bake both pretzel dough batches.
The first batch (the non water added) I couldn’t seem to get to roll together and form a pretzel shape so I broke the dough into 1 inch size bits and boiled for thirty seconds in the baking soda and water mixture, washed with egg and salt and baked according to directions.
With the second batch of dough I was able to roll it into ropes and make the proper pretzel shape, boiled according the directions in the baking soda and water bath, brush with egg and salt, bake.
Here is the funny thing, the taste and texture was the same. Moral of the story? If the dough can’t be made into pretzels either add water or make pretzel bites. Both were absolutely delicious and I froze a half of each batch for a later date.
To make the Tupelo Honey Homemade Pretzels:
1 cup of warm milk (110F) I always use a candy thermometer to check this temp.
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp of salt plus more for sprinkling. However, for the sprinkling I used a heavier sea salt.
1 package (2 1/4) tsp of active dry yeast
3 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter
2/3 cup of baking soda
2 egg yolks, whisked.
- Combine the milk, sugars and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the yeast and set aside for 5-10 minutes until a cap forms or is foamy. Slowly add the three cups of flour and the butter. I used the dough hook on my kitchen aide mixer but if you do not have access to a mixer, use a wooden spoon until things are combined. If the dough seems to crumbly and will not stick, continue to mix on low speed while adding 1 tsp of water at a time.
- Cover the dough with a layer of plastic wrap. On top of that get a tea towel soaked in warm water, wring out and place over top of bowl with plastic wrap. Set in a warm non drafty area for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 450F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Divide the dough into 8 chunks if you are making the pretzel shapes. Roll each piece to a rope about 1/2 inch thick and fold into a pretzel shape by taking each end crossing over in the middle and pinching to the middle of the rope. I used a little bit of water as glue to keep them in place.
- Bring 2 1/2 quarts of water and the baking soda to a boil. Working in batches place one pretzel at time into the water mixture and boil for thirty seconds before removing and placing on the baking sheet. Once you have boiled all the dough brush each pretzel with the egg yolk and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 10 minutes until dark in color. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm. I did put my left overs double wrapped in plastic and in my freezer for a later date. I baked the pretzel bites the same way for the same amount of time.
To make the White Cheddar Pimento Cheese:
1 lb of sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup of mayo ( I used the low fat with olive oil variety)
1 tbsp of whole grain mustard
1 tsp of mustard powder
1 cup of minced roasted red peppers that have been soaked in vinegar (bought in a jar)
1 tsp of vinegar from the jar of peppers
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
3 tbsp of fresh minced parsley
1. In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients and stir until mixed. This can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 7 days. If it lasts that long. I used mine on homemade pretzels, grilled cheese, on crackers and even in pasta.