Rye-Parmesan Soft Pretzels

>> Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This recipe comes from Alton Brown, one of my all-time favorite chefs. Before last night, I'd never made soft pretzels from scratch. But that didn't mean everything that went into the process was unfamiliar. In fact, I badly burned my left thumb last night -- and the last time I burned a digit was about a year ago . . . while making soft pretzels.


So, exercise caution as you prepare this recipe. And if you're as clumsy as I am, you may want to keep some cold water and a few band-aids nearby.

(Not a fan of rye or parmesan? Get Mr. Brown's original soft pretzel recipe here.)

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2-1/2 cups wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 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
  • More kosher salt (or pretzel salt, if you're fancy)

Method . . .

(To make the dough)
  1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher 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.
  2. Add the flour, butter, and parmesan cheese. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and place in a large, lightly-oiled bowl. Cover the large bowl with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes (or until the dough has doubled in size).
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

(Baking instructions)
  1. Then bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  2. 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 parchment-lined half sheet pan.
  3. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
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