I fell in love with these as soon as they came out of the oven. They smelt absolutely amazing and the aroma filled the house causing my sibblings to pop into the kitchen to find out what I was baking. My brother asked if he could have one straight away before I even had a chance to let them cool down and sort through them to pick the best ones to photograph.
Funnily enough the first time I had a soft pretzel was at Disney World on a family holiday back in December 2001. I don't recall seeing many of them being sold here when I came back but I remember finding out that there was a pretzel store on the Level 5 food court of Westfield Parramatta and I would always have to stop by for either a cinnamon pretzel or the cinnamon glazed one before going home. It has been a long long while since I've last had a pretzel (before making my own), I realised that pigging out on pretzels was not ideal for my health and well, Ryan and I both started working full time so don't really have time to just hang out in shopping centres anymore ;).
With the acquisition of my pretty KitchenAid, making dough based goodies just became so much easier to do and the warm weather was just great for prooving dough without too much worry about it not rising. I also bought this little book hoping to expand my baking reportoire and came across a recipe for soft pretzels which looked really easy to do. And it was so super easy, the only tricky part was making the pretzel shapes. One batch was okay but when I made a double batch the second time around it seemed to take me forever to make the pretzels. If I was going to make that many again I might just make bun shapes to cut down on the time. But they do look so much prettier in pretzel form.
I did find that they were a little dry for my liking the next day so altered the recipe slightly when making my second batch. If you warm them up a little in the microwave they soften up nicely though. I'll post the recipe as the book says and note the adjustments I made the second time around (for a double batch). The cinnamon sugar is my own addition to the recipe.
Recipe (adapted from the book 'Swedish Cakes and Cookies')
Soft Sweet Pretzels with Cinnamon Sugar
Makes approximately 16 (or 32 for a double batch)
100gr butter or margarine (250gr butter)
1 1/4 cups milk (2 2/3 cups)
1/2 cup sugar (3/4 cup)
50gr fresh yeast or 2 tbsp dry active yeast (I used 3 sachets of dry instant yeast, 6 for a double batch)
3 1/2 cups plain flour (7 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
3-4 tsp cinnamon1 beaten egg
Place the milk and butter in a saucepan and heat on medium until the butter is melted and the mixture is at 45 degrees celcius (37 if using fresh yeast). Pour the milk mixture onto a mixer bowl and add the sugar and yeast, stirring until dissolved.
Add half the flour and mix on high speed.
Add in the remaining flour and work with the dough hook (or kneed by hand) until smooth and elastic. If it sticks to the bowl, let it rest a few minutes then turn onto a lightly floured surface. It should be loose and feel 'alive' and warm.
Divide the dough into approximately 16 pieces. Cover with a tea towel while you make the pretzels.
Roll a piece of dough into a long strip.
And then twise into a pretzel. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. I was worried about the ends coming apart during baking so 'glued' them down with a brush of water.
Place on a greased or baking paper lined tray and repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Cover and let rise for approximately 30 minutes (or nicely puffed and about double the size). Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. (To prevent them drying out while you work, place a tea towel over them).
Brush the pretzels with the beaten egg. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and then sprinkle onto the pretzels. Bake at 200 degrees celcius for about 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180 degrees celcius and bake for another 10-15 minutes. (The original recipe does state 225 - 275 degrees celcius for 5 minutes, way way way too hot, they'd burn before they even cook).
Sniff the aroma of butter, sugar and cinnamon, then eat while warm and fresh!
They're not like the pretzels that you can buy at the shopping centres, and not like the ones I remember from Disney World, but I think they're even better! These pretzels almost remind me of a brioche, soft, fluffy, buttery. They disappeared pretty quickly as soon as they came out of the oven so I guarantee that you will need a double batch ;).