So, growing up in the Ancestral Betz home autumn Sundays meant going to church and watching the Eagles. Except there was an important stop in between — and that was to get soft-pretzels.
We would go to a place called "Cass's Mart Pretzels" — a fresh pretzel bakery that operated in an absolute dump called the Pennsauken Mart. The mart was thankfully demolished several years ago, and the pretzel folks moved to a strip mall up the road. We always try to swing by when we're back in The Garden State.
Anyway, that doesn't help me much in California — as there really aren't good places to get pretzels and no, Auntie Anne's doesn't count. And I'd tried the frozen SuperPretzel thing — blah. So, this weekend, I decided to take matters (and matter) into my own hands and track down a recipe for soft pretzels that I thought I'd give a try.
The recipe was pretty straightforward. You first make a yeast-dough of flour (4c) salt (2 tsp), and activated yeast (1 packet in 1 1/4 c warm water). That dough came together pretty well.
I covered it and allowed the dough to rise (it didn't rise as much as I'd liked it to have — I think I didn't leave the yeast in the warm-ish water long enough, or maybe the water wasn't warm enough — or both, I don't know…). After that, small balls of dough are pulled out and made into 15-20" ropes.
Those are made into pretzel shapes — or a reasonable facsimile thereof.
Those are then dropped individually into boiling water that has baking powder in it. They were removed when the buoyed to the top and allowed to dry off on a rack. They were then salted with coarse salt and popped into a 475 degree oven.
By the time that the first batch had come out of the oven (and cooled on a rack for a bit) NBC had chosen to switch from the Eagles game to one that was more "competitive". And while it was a bummer not to see the Birdz beat up on the Chiefs — which they were supposed to — so good going in getting the job done — I was very excited to sit down with a pretzel, mustard and a beer.
How were they? I didn't think they browned up as much as I would have thought — so either the oven was too low, or there's something else to do to evoke that good brown color. Otherwise, they had a good crispy outside, light and tasty inside.
Can't wait to tweak the recipe for future weekends!