What goes better with an ice cold hard cider or pumpkin ale than soft pretzels? Nothing, that's what, aside from perhaps a forest clad in a dazzling array of fall foliage. Check, on both fronts.
My sister, Devan, came to visit last week and brought her pretzel-making prowess with her. Truth be told, she'd never made soft pretzels before, or any pretzels for that matter, but she had them on the brain, I had a recipe I'd been wanting to try out, and the weather and our sister-to-sister skills told us that now was the time. We used Karen Solomon's recipe for soft pretzels from her amazing book Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It (its predecessor, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It shouldn't be missed, either-I seriously love her books, and any of you DIY food fiends out there will adore them, too).
Devan did most of the work, while I looked after Huxley. For the most part, it seemed the greatest challenge lay in kneading the dough. You've got to keep at it for 7-10 minutes, beating it into pliant, smooth submission in order to truly activate the gluten. After that, the dough is allowed to rest and rise for an hour, fashioned into a rope-like circle, and then cut out into 12 equal lengths. Those chunks are then rolled into small ropes, knotted into pretzels, and then plunged for 30 seconds into a boiling bath of 6 cups of water and 1/2 cup baking soda. Next, the pretzels are glazed with an egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water, sprinkled with coarse salt and baked for 30-35 minutes.
Then you must wait. Waiting, you see, is key, as it allows the pretzels to achieve their best possible texture for consumption. Admittedly, this was the most challenging part of the entire process for me, as I was in pretzel-chomping mode. It was worth the wait, though. Mad props to Devan for turning out truly stellar pretzels and for making our visit one filled with laughter, comfort, and doughy goodness.
Give these pretzels a whirl. We tried ours with a variety of mustards, both local and otherwise. You won't be disappointed and your autumn will be that much better with a soft, homemade pretzel in hand. I guarantee it.
*You can view more of our sisterly fun here, including the apple orchard we visited on Friday for Huxley's 1st birthday and an incredible lake-side walk and picnic we took on Sunday.