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The Art of Pretzel Making


 For my Octoberfest celebration, I decided to go all out: Brats marinated in beer, sauerkraut with a beer reduction, homemade spaetzel with a sage and brown butter sauce, and these lovely made from scratch pretzel rolls.

 "Holy Shite, David!" you might say after viewing these lovelies, "There's no way a normal Joe like me can bake angel kissed goodness like that!"

 Wrong, buddy. You can make these and I'm gonna' teach you how. First, men, (and ladies, too if you're reading) let's look at our ingredients for the dough:

- 2 Teaspoons melted butter
- 1 cup warm (105º f to 115º f) water
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- enough oil to line your rising dough bowl (I used coconut oil cause I'm a rebel)
- 2 and 3/4th cups bread flour (King Arthur bread flour worked well for me) Also, get some extra for dusting the dough during the kneading process.
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt + more for sprinkling

Also, to get that malty pretzel tasting goodness you're going to boil these a bit before you bake them. (easier than it sounds) For that, you'll need:

- 6 cups water (bring to boil)
- 1/4th cup baking soda 

Lastly, they'll need an egg wash before you stick them in the oven:

- 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water 

Now, let's get to it.

Step 1. Place your cup of warm water in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Make sure the temp is correct, otherwise you'll murder the little guys. Set aside these little fellas until the mixture starts to bubble. (Usually, about 5 minutes) While your yeast are enjoying the first course of their last meal, coat a big ass bowl with oil and set it aside.

Scofflaw Baking Pro Tip: When measuring out your flour, it's not a bad idea to let some spill around all silly since you'll need it for kneading later anyway.
Step2. After your yeast have started to froth up, place your flour, sugar, salt, melted butter, and the yeast water mixture into a bowl. You can get fancy and make a well in the dry ingredients before pouring the liquid in, but I just tossed it all in. Start mixing until the dough starts to come away from the side.

 If you don't own a mixer, your arms may hate you after this step. Suck it up. This is baking.

At this stage, your dough will look like a giant pale meatball. Don't eat it. Or, do eat it. See if I care.
Step 3. Form your dough into a ball like the one pictured above. Place it in an oiled bowl, coating it by turning it in the bowl, and cover it with a clean damp cloth for about 35-40 minutes.

As you can see, I used a nice festive flower towel to cover my dough. It's okay because I'm secure in my masculinity. You can use any towel you want, just don't use plastic wrap because your yeast will suffocate and you're not ready to murder them yet.
Step 4. Once your dough has risen, punch it because no one likes arrogance. Knead it on a floured surface. If you followed my scofflaw baking pro tip, you'll already have some flour on your kneading surface. If not, go ahead and dust your kneading surface with flour.



It's okay. We'll wait.

 Now, knead the dough until it is smooth and springy. (about 1 minute) Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces. Place on an oiled baking sheet and score them about four times.

Don't worry if they look like ass. They'll look much better once you're done.
 Step 5. Cover your dough with a damp towel and let them rise 15-20 minutes more. Preheat your oven to 425º f. Also, bring 6 cups of water to a boil, but don't add the baking soda yet, or our master plan will be ruined.

Think of this part as a sauna for the happy little yeast, not a horrible scalding death bath.
Step 6. After the rolls rise, stir the baking soda into the water. Be careful, because that junk will make the water jump at you and possibly burn your pee pee. Ouch! With a slotted spoon, lower your rolls topside down into the water and boil them about 2 minutes then flip them and boil the other side for 2 minutes. This step is very important. Trust me.
We're getting closer to our goal, men.
7. Now rescue your rolls and place them back on your baking sheet. They'll have the texture of giant dumplings at this point. You may want to lay down a new parchment sheet with a tiny bit of oil on your baking pan because your rolls will be soggy on the bottom if there is too much moisture and the old sheet might be too wet. You may also want to rescore your rolls with a knife if they need it. These rolls need street cred.

Brush the surface of your rolls with an egg yolk mixture and sprinkle some chunky salt on top. I suppose you could sprinkle cinnamon and sugar instead and I wouldn't hold it against ya'.


For all you scofflaws out there keeping score, yes, the roll in the upper right might be rather phallic looking. There may or may not be a story to this occurrence. I'm sure there is a good explanation, like it's just a bad camera angle or maybe one of the rolls got hit with a testosterone shot. For now, it's a mystery.
Step 8. Bake the rolls, already. (about 10 to 12 minutes until they are golden brown) My rolls were a bit large, so I let them bake an additional 5 minutes.

And, Alakazam! Magic.

It's okay to cry tears of joy when you take these out of the oven. Some things are too beautiful to appreciate any other way.

 You'll want to move your rolls to a cooling rack if you have one. But take my advice, don't let them cool too much. They are so good warm and fresh. I gobbled mine up with a nice juicy brat, some golden mustard, and heaps of delicious kraut while washing it all down my gullet with an ice cold Samuel Adam's Oktoberfest beer.


 There you have it. Now get to baking!



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