Soft pretzel redo

Are there any Zoom lovers out there?  You know, the PBS show with the energetic kids in matching shirts and sneakers?  I have to tell you, I adored that show when I was younger.  I’m fairly certain it doesn’t run anymore (sad face) but if it did, I’m sure I’d still love it just as much as ever.  One of my favorite segments was the CafeZoom.

When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I saw an episode where they made soft pretzels.  I got stoked.  By the next day, I was in the kitchen on my way to making some for myself.  I followed the directions carefully, put them in the oven, and hoped for the best.  When I took them out, I must have deflated like a popped balloon because they. looked. awful.  So dry and pale in color.  Hoping the flavor might make up for the looks, I took a bite.

I frowned.

They were disgusting.

The family agreed.

I tried passing them off as a dog biscuit and tossed a couple to my dogs, but even they knew better.

In the back of my mind, I knew CafeZoom would not lead me to culinary excellence, but it was definitely fun to try.  I may have been spurred on because of my love for soft pretzels, but in all honestly, it was probably because of the guy who was making them on the show.

I have no shame in saying that I thought he was a cutie.  Bowl cut and all.  Just look how he pours that salt and scoops that flour.  Melts my heart.

Today, I’m going to make homemade soft pretzels that will hopefully be more edible than my last attempt.  Won’t you join me?

After reading the loads of positive reviews, I decided to use this recipe.  Per suggestions of a few commenters, I only used about 4 cups of flour and that worked out just fine for me.  Aside from that, I did everything else as written!  I sprinkled most of the pretzels with plain sea salt and a couple with a little bit of cinnamon sugar.  These weren’t just edible, they were delectable.  Let me take you through the process!

Activate the yeast with sugar and warm water.  About ten minutes later, it will look like this:
Off to a good start.
Add yeast mixture and oil to the dry ingredients and knead to form a smooth ball of dough.  Initially, I used my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook attachment, and when it came together, I kneaded for a couple minutes by hand.  Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place.  I put my oven on the “warm” setting and left the bowl on top of the stove.
It’ll end up doubling in size after about an hour.
Cut the dough into about 12 equal sections.  It does not have to be perfect.  With a pizza cutter, I cut my dough ball into quarters and then cut each quarter into thirds.  Then we roll!  I rolled the pieces of dough to about an arm’s length.  I’m sure you could do plain sticks or make tiny pretzel bites as well.
I said before that I didn’t make any other changes to the recipe, but I realize now that that’s totally false.  I set my oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 450, per comment suggestions.  Dip the pretzels into the baking soda water and place on a greased baking sheet.  Throw them in the oven and 8 minutes later, you’ll have pretzels!
Chewy, soft, golden brown pretzels.  The dough was ever so slightly sweet and I loved it.  I put the tiniest bit of butter on them right when they came out of the oven, which I think was the perfect finishing touch.

Needless to say, they were much better than my first attempt at soft pretzels.

Have you ever had a baking/cooking mishap when you were younger that you still remember?  I encourage you to right your wrongs and redo it!  Or just make this recipe.  Win-win situation.
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