Pumpkin soft pretzels
This is another one of those recipes that makes people all looney and shit. Probably because most people have only ever known those rubbery, imitation soft pretzels you get in movie theaters. And those things are gross, so I really can't blame them. A pretzel is supposed to be crunchy on the outside, and a soft, pillow of goodness on the inside. Not rubbery. Ever.
I have a love/hate relationship with this recipe becuase a) it's a lot of work, and b) people are always asking for more. One time we had an Oktoberfest celebration and I wound up making these pretzels (sans the pumpkin) far too many times to keep count. I literally spent the entire party in the kitchen making pretzels for a bunch of drunk people. In hindsight, it worked out favorably becuase I woke up the next morning feeling like a normal human being while they were all nursing super massive hangovers. Chalk one up for the lady who partied in the kitchen all night!
I'm not going to lie, shaping the dough is a total b- i- t- c- h-. Which is why I eventually resorted to rolling the pretzels into tiny balls. But all of the work is so worth it once you bite into a warm, homemade pretzel you just pulled from the oven. So freaking worth it. I ate two for breakfast and two for lunch. And I have yet to see the repercussions. Which means the gluten gods must love me today.
PUMPKIN SOFT PRETZELS
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup warm water, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 cup unbleached flours
Coarse sea salt
In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugar and 3/4 cup of the water. Bring to a light boil then remove from heat; set aside and let cool for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the yeast and remaining 1/4 cup of water. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar then let set for 10-15 minutes.
Lightly coat a large mixing bowl with oil; set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the pumpkin mixture and yeast mixture. Add flour 1 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Once you've added 3 cups of flour, add 1/4 cup at a time just until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl (I used the full 4 cups). Allow the mixer to work the dough for an additional 5-6 minutes. Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area for 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line two large baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper; set aside. In a large saucepan, prepare the baking soda water bath by combining 2 teaspoons of baking soda with every 1 cup of water (i.e. for 10 cups of water you'd add 20 teaspoons of baking soda). Bring the mixture to a boil. Tear off pieces of dough about the size of a lemon, roll into a long, skinny rope between your hands and the counter (a little thicker than a sharpie) and twist into a pretzel shape. Submerge into the baking soda bath for 10 seconds then transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired. Bake at 450˚F for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. The pretzels are best served right away, but you can store them in an air-tight container for a day or two and reheat them in the oven as needed. You could also bake them for 3-4 minutes, let them cool then store them in the freezer until ready to bake completely.
Yield: 8-10 pretzels