So with March break time on my hands, and the latest issue of the LCBO Food & Drink in my kitchen, I got to work.
(slightly adapted from Food & Drink Spring 2011)
3½ cups all purpose flour
2½ tsp instant (or quick-rise) yeast (that's one package)
2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup cold water
8 cups water
½ cup baking soda
Coarse salt (about 1 tbsp)
1. To make dough, mix together flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand-mixer (you can, of course, do this by hand too). In a microwaveable measuring cup, heat milk in microwave to almost boiling, add butter and stir until melted. Then mix in maple syrup and cold water. This will bring the temperature of the liquid down so it doesn't kill the yeast off.
2. With the dough hook on the stand mixer, start mixing away. Slowly add in the milk mixture. If you feel like you need additional liquid, you can add up to 3 more tbsp cold water. Add it in tablespoon at a time, and take it from there. This is a very stiff dough though, so don't add water prematurely. Once mixture has come together and has formed a smooth ball that's pulled away from the sides, let the machine run for an additional 3-5 minutes to develop the gluten. Turn off machine. Remove dough hook and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in place for about an hour or until doubled in bulk.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl, and knead a couple of times to deflate. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 9 balls.
|I was worried about getting 9 balls right the first time, so I started by subdividing into 3.|
4. Roll each ball into a long rope (about 18-24" long) that's thicker in the middle than it is at its ends.
5. Make a big U out of each rope. Twist the ends of the rope into... well... a twist. Try and keep the twist about 3 inches long, if possible. Then lift up the fat bottom of the pretzel and place ends appropriately. Place dough on baking sheet so ends are on top (not underneath) the pretzel. Repeat with all ropes, and leave 2" on all sides of pretzels on the baking sheets.
6. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 minutes, then transfer dough to the freezer. This will help the pretzels keep their shape when you boil them. Freeze for 2 hours on baking sheets. After this, you can either move on to step 7, or you can put the dough into freezer bags and save them for cooking at a later date.
7. Preheat oven to 375º.
8. Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large (and I do mean large) pot (make sure it's either stainless steel or enamel, other metals will react to the baking soda and make the pretzels taste awful). The water will look foamy, like you've got epsom salts in it. Don't be alarmed. That's totally normal. Meanwhile, line a large baking tray (perhaps the one you used to freeze the pretzels on) with parchment paper.
9. Working one pretzel at a time, cook the dough first in the boiling water for 45-60 seconds. Remove using a slotted spoon; drain on a tea towel, without removing from spoon. Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Repeat with remaining dough.
10. Once all pretzels are on baking sheet (again, leaving 2" around each), use a sharp knife to cut a slash in the thickest part of each pretzel.
11. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 3 or until deeply browned. Let cool on a rack.
12. For a traditional condiment, mix 2 parts mayonnaise with 1 part mustard (grainy, yellow, your choice) and dip that pretzel away!