Last week on Top Chef Masters, Chef Celina Tio created a soft pretzel and salad course that sadly sent her home. Even though this was the judges' least favorite dish, I was inspired to make my own soft pretzels! It's something I had wanted to try for a while, but it never realistically made it onto my to do list. What better time than now! I also planned to make some homemade mustard to go with the pretzels, because what goes better with pretzels than yummy, tangy, spicy mustard? The pretzels came out really great, a truly perfect pretzel texture. My Philly-born brother-in-law insisted I could sell them on the streets of Philadelphia (I just might have to if I can't find a job soon, teehee). They had a great chewy interior with a perfect pretzel crust on the outside.
|The bottoms of the pretzels were super brown too :) Glorious!!|
I refrained from dusting them with pretzel salt on purpose... for two reasons. One, I made these pretzels on a whim and simply didn't have time to order this specialty ingredient in time. Second, I don't really like salt on my pretzels. I usually get them without salt if given the choice, and if they come with salt, I rub most of it off. It's just too salty for me. I used a touch of kosher salt instead, which obviously didn't impart the same crunchy salty texture as the pretzel salt, but was perfect for those of us who like our pretzels lower in sodium :) And for what it's worth, these pretzels were very easy to make, and not time-consuming at all. From start to finish (measuring ingredients to taking the pretzels out of the oven) it took just over 2 hours which is considerably awesome for a yeasted dough that needs to rise (for about an hour), be shaped, boiled, and then baked.
The mustard was a piece of cake. I perused many recipes before I came up with my own version. It used less dry mustard than some other similar recipes I found, and yet it definitely had a kick! I wouldn't add more than this. I also searched out brown mustard seeds to no avail (in my limited time to make these "on a whim"), so I used only yellow, but would have loved to mix it up had I found their brown counterparts. After sitting overnight, the texture of this mustard was not as thick as store-bought mustard, but it was perfect for dipping and spreading. After two nights, it was much thicker! The photographs reflect how it looked after the first night, so if you have the patience and make it far enough in advance, give it at least a couple days to really thicken up. It had a strong, but delicious flavor that garnered fans far and wide (well maybe not that far and wide, but whoever tried it loved it!). I would happily whip this up again in the future and even play around with the recipe to make different kinds of mustard. Just keep in mind it needs to sit overnight at least one night, so plan ahead... even on a whim, you can't really rush the mustard!
Homemade Soft Pretzels
(Adapted from Alton Brown)
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 T. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast
22 oz all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T. water
Pretzel salt (optional)
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other twice, into a twist, and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds on each side, starting with the top side and then the bottom. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt, if desired. Alternatively, kosher salt creates a less salty topping. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes, rotating pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through . Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
|The mustard after sitting overnight. After two nights it was significantly thicker than this.|
Spicy Whole Grain Mustard
Makes 1 cup
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds (or 3 T. yellow and 1 T. brown)
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry mustard
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.