Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Soft Pretzels & Lava Salt

(This is a total contradiction and an admission.)  I am a morning person who occasionally fights being a morning person, especially in the winter.  The thing I have come to realize is those mornings where I manage to workout before work, bake before most people are up, or catch a sunrise, are always better.  They are the wake up on the "right side", mentally jump out of bed, while actually slowly rolling out of bed, trying not to wake the dog, good days.  Instead of being one of those days where I wake up somewhere in the "middle" of the bed, slowly dragging through the morning, a little less motivated.  

Recently though, there have too many days (especially this time of year), where the alarm goes off, and instead of "jumping" out of bed, I reset my alarm and wiggle a little but further under the covers.  However, with this new realization, I am hoping I will start "jumping" out of bed a few more days a week, and enjoying my morning me time.  And if it happens to be a baking morning, it means I will have my headphones in, with some happy tunes turned up, so as to not wake said dog or my sleeping husband...at least not with music.  I can't be blamed, if they wake up because of yummy smelling baked goods, can I?  

This week has been like...

oh, hello (yes I still like writing with old school pencils)

Life in pieces...

Dinner planning...when you have to draw it out so you don't forget any components.

Though these were not made in the early morning hours...the music was turned up for a little post work me time, on a day I pulled myself out of bed to do a quick workout in the snow with November Project RVA.  These pretzels are soft and slight chewy.  They are everything you want out of a quick and easy pretzel recipe thanks to the work that Sally from sallysbakingaddiction.com put into recipe testing.  And though they might not be perfectly shaped, they aren't to shabby for my first try at pretzels, plus they were fun to make while dancing around the kitchen!

Dough resting as the water boils.

Then into the boiling water, 

 Out of the water, sprinkled with lava salt and then into the oven.

Soft Baked Pretzels: (recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction)
1 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (lukewarm-- no need to take temperature)
1 packet active dry or instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
3 and ¾  - 4 cups (460-500g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Baking Soda Bath:
9 cups boiling water
1/2 cup baking soda

1. Whisk the yeast into warm water. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Whisk in salt, brown sugar, and melted butter. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon (or dough hook attached to stand mixer) until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup more, as needed. Poke the dough with your finger - if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.

2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Cover lightly with a towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, I like to get the water + baking soda boiling as instructed in step 6.)

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

4. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough in half and then divide each half into 6 pieces.

5. Roll the dough into a 20-22 inch rope. Take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape.

6. Bring baking soda and 9 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Drop 1-2 pretzels into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste. Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place pretzel onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with coarse sea salt. Repeat with remaining pretzels.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Pretzels may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days (they lose a little softness).

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