Twisty Bobcat Kinda Pretzel

Hello readers!  What's on today's menu?  I made pretzels last week for my dear, wonderful, picky-pants husband.  I constantly get this question at work when I bring in baked goods: "What about your husband?!  Didn't you want to save some of this for him?!" like I'm starving the poor boy, and smacking his hands away.

Oh contraire!

Just the opposite actually.  I have to beg him to try things!  He usually just greets my baked goods with a polite, "No, thank you."  I'm serious!  Know what he wants for his birthday every year?  Yellow cake and chocolate frosting, from a box and a plastic tub, respectively.  How's that for crazy?!

So I'm constantly on the prowl for a good recipe that just might interest him...and I found one!  Jeffrey LOVES soft pretzels.  I ran the idea by him a while ago, and he was really interested; he actually followed up once to see when I was going to make them!  If he sees a stand at the baseball game, or the mall, he'll usually get one.  So I decided to surprise him when he had to work late one night last week, and have him come home to a late night snack of delicious, salty, doughy, goodness.

While I was making them (somewhat terrified at good things in the past), I kept thinking of this scene from "Two Weeks Notice" with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant (hence the title of this post.  Sorry, Sandra gets a little cut off by the layout of the page).  It's really only the first 2:15 of this clip, but the whole movie is so great.  Classic rom-com.


So anyway, I've only really got two pics for you today.  Hopefully they'll leave you satisfied and wanting to make some pretzels of your own!  I really liked the end result, but I would probably get a little more creative and season them with other things besides just salt if I make them again.  This is the picky-pants part, naturally.  :) Jeff just prefers plain salted, which were still delicious.  These would be equally excellent with some rosemary and garlic, maybe some cinnamon and sugar?  The possibilities are endless!  They were surprisingly easy to make (remember?  I'm dough deficient), just a little time consuming.  I started mine late, at about 7:30PM, and they were done by 10PM.

And look how pretty they turned out!
They were wonderful, doughy, chewy, delicious!  Add a good spicy mustard, or maybe a little queso, and ohmigod heaven!  Plus, my kitchen smelled amazing!  Oh...and that husband of mine seemed to like them too.  Especially when he told me he had SIX (SIX!!!!) the next day when he brought them to work. Ha!  Let's call that a victory.

from Smitten Kitchen/Martha Stewart

Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature

2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray (I just used parchment paper...I'm a sucker for minimal clean-up...btw, my comments will be in bold down here)

1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions this means if your kitchen is like mine, and 1000*F and humid? extra 1/2 cup is needed); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic (extremely important to wrap the dough!  Otherwise it will dry out, and won't roll out easily).

5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

So there you go! These are an excellent addition to my recipe box, and I'm excited to make them again with some different flavor combinations!

Just before I go, though, I would like to give a big shout-out to my AWESOME cousin Kim!  I came home yesterday to find this waiting for me in my mailbox:

How great is that?! 

Okay, enjoy your week everyone!  Coming up next, I'll be featuring a redo of our wedding cake for our 1 year anniversary this weekend.  Keep your eyes peeled!


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