When I was a kid, nearly every summer our family would make the trek from L.A. back to my hometown of Atkinson, Nebraska. We would often stay with Aunt Ruby and our cousins on the farm, but also spent time with Grandpa in town. Now I loved my Grandpa dearly, but as a pre-teen youngster, I was somewhat irritated by being woken in the early morning hours with a radio blaring first the hogs and pigs reports, followed by lively polka music.
Last night we hosted dinner for a group of dear friends, and I thought it would be fun to re-connect with my German heritage and prepare a Hausmannskost – or Mighty Man Meal! I picked up a gorgeous chuck roast at my favorite meat market, Alexander’s, and prepared Molly Stevens‘ sauerbraten (that’ll be a different post). Curt picked up some amazing German sausages at Schreiner’s in Glendale, and I got to thinking that warm, soft, fresh pretzels would be a perfect accompaniment. (BTW, we cranked the Slacker polka play list while prepping this dinner, and 15 minutes of reminiscing was all I could handle!)
Check out this Alton Brown recipe ..
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approx. 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
pretzel salt (coarse)
Combine water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups water and baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.