It’s been a while since I’ve had time for myself. After my last post (which was just after our fall break — yikes), it has been a never-ending deluge of problem sets, rats, and all sorts of responsibilities that decided to show up out of the blue. With everything going on I find it miraculous that I even got any sleep. Poor excuses but not untrue: I haven’t had time to cook.
Or go to the gym, or clean my room, or…
Let’s not even talk about finals. Moving on.
It’s winter break!
I’m staying on campus for the latter end of winter break at Wesleyan. Veronica and I were looking for ways to use up perishables before I had left for home. We ended up making these sad looking but tasty cannelés….
With the pretzels, I was super impressed at how easy it was to make. I’d been craving those mall pretzels (soft, salty, and sinfully greasy) with the fake cheese. I saw this recipe on Budget Bytes a few weeks ago (an awesome site) and discovered how easy it was to make these. Beth’s recipe makes savory pretzels but you could easily swap in some white sugar and cinnamon for some sweet ones.
I made these at home, though I’ve swapped in some whole-wheat flour to make it, uh, healthier. (Makes it nice and chewy! But definitely use all all-purpose if you want some soft pretzels.) My brothers definitely preferred the cinnamon ones but you can top them with or even dip them in whatever your heart desires. Take care in not over-baking these, or they’ll get hard and crunchy and not the soft ones you’re expecting.
Slightly adapted from BudgetByte’s recipe
Makes…a lot of pretzels?
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4 ounce envelope)
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 large egg, for the bread wash
Grated Parmesan (the stuff in the green shaker is totally fine)
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon butter
Stir the yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar into the warm water. Let sit for about five minutes, until frothy. In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of the flours and the 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Pour the yeast water into the bowl and stir. Once the dough tacks into large soft clumps, toss out into a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Because we’re using whole-wheat flour, be sparse with the remaining 1/2 cup flour but slowly add in as needed. Whole-wheat tends to absorb a little more liquid.
Once the dough is smooth and springy, round it into a sphere. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for about an hour.
After this first rise, turn out the dough onto your work surface and punch out the air. Flatten into a disc and cut into 16 wedges. Roll each wedge into a long rope, with a diameter of about 1/2 inch (I got ropes of about 8-12 inches). Cut the dough into bites of your preferred size, perhaps of about one inch sections.
Let these dough bits rest on lightly greased baking sheets (or lined with parchment paper) for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, begin to bring a pot of water to boil. Once the 30 minutes is up (the dough should be puffy and soft), add the 3 tablespoons of baking soda to the boiling water. The amount of baking soda is going to depend on the size of your pot and how much water you’re boiling . You don’t want to add too much since it’ll make the pretzels bitter.
In small batches, cook the pretzels in the water bath for about a minute. Stir them gently to make sure they get evenly cooked. Transfer the pretzels on to a cooling rack and let drain while you cook the rest in batches.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once cooled and slightly dried, replace the pretzels on the prepared baking sheet. Beat the single egg in a bowl with a splash of water. Brush the pretzels with this egg wash.
Bake the pretzels for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly on the sheet. At this point, you can melt the butter and toss the pretzels in it. Want savory? Go with a few spoonfuls of grated Parmesan, heavy dash of garlic powder, and salt. Got a sweet tooth? Do the same with the white sugar and cinnamon.
You can also freeze the pretzels before seasoning with anything for future use. Just heat up quickly in the oven when you’re ready to eat and season away.