You know what I love about going to the mall? Hint: It's not the parking lot situation.
It's the food court. And even more so, it's the soft hot, freshly baked pretzels, with butter and salt and even though they run you like freaking $4 each, I don't think I can turn one down if I tried.
I figured there had to be a recipe on Pinterest of a tired and true Mall style pretzel shop pretzel, and after sorting through a page or 2 of results, I decided on the Copy Cat version of an Auntie Anne's Pretzel, because good old Auntie Anne is who I was trying to be today.
I had promised Audrey that we would make cinnamon pretzels when I picked her up from day care on Friday, I figured we could make them together and then blog about them. We had a fun day of learning about yeast, and how dough rises and what makes the dough feel so soft and spongy when we roll it out. I think the recipe below is pretty spot on in taste to a mall style pretzel, but we obviously do not have the skill that goes into rolling out and twisting the dough into the famous Auntie Anne's shape. Instead of being big, and thin, ours were more thick and chubby, but they tasted delicious just the same.
So even though we had a little twisting fail, and would probably never be hired at a pretzel shop in the mall, the kid and I actually just had a grand old time baking. You can do this too, and it even gave me a great idea using handmade soft pretzels, and a bunch of toppings and dips to make a party pretzel bar! How delicious would that be??!?! Anyway...
To start your own mall pretzel shop you will need;
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (maybe a little more or less)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- Kosher Salt & melted butter for Topping (we also used cinnamon sugar, and garlic bread seasoning)
- 1 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon butter (melted)
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 small package of quick acting yeast (we used Red Star brand - I think if you buy in bulk, it's roughly 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon.)
- 1 cup water (plus1/4 cups 2 tablespoons warm water to activate yeast)
- 2 cups warm water, plus 2 tbsp baking soda, for the pretzel bath (last step before baking)
In a small bowl, combine yeast, sugar and 1/4 + 2 tbsp warm water (110* roughly - too hot and you'll kill the yeast). Stir and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes until it gets all foamy and frothy. Add oil.
|It should look AT LEAST like this.|
The sides of your bowl should be clean, and the dough should form a nice ball. Cover this bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit for at least an hour at slightly warmer than room temperature (80*) If your house is cool, place the bowl in the oven (turned off obviously) and let it rise in there. You can also add a small pan of freshly boiled water to help with the rising, but you should only have to do this if you live in Minnesota or it's the dead of Winter, or both.
After an hour, your dough ball should look like this...
If it doesn't a couple of things could have gone wrong.
- Your yeast was old, and either needs more time to rise, or needs to be replaced.
- Your "warm" water was actually "hot" and you killed it. So sad.
- Your house is freezing and you didn't read what I wrote about Minnesota, the dead of Winter, or my handy tips about the boiling pan of water and the oven. Please reread the entire blog post and start over. :)
This is where we went wrong... We didn't watch this video first! Which is full of helpful hints from the girl at the Auntie Anne's Pretzel University where she got a PhD in freaking awesome pretzel making. So you might want to watch it, and learn how to roll the dough out properly, and how much counter space you REALLY need, which is like 5 times bigger than the room we had, and how to do the one handed twisty swish to a uniform and beautiful pretzel every time. Ours looked like this...
So roll out your dough, into your desired shape, we happen to like fat lumpy soft pretzels, and dip into the pretzel bath (2 cups warm water plus 2 tbsp baking soda - it helps give it that nice browned color), place on your lined baking sheet (sil-pat, silicone sheet, parchment, whatever) and bake at 425* for 10-12 minutes depending on the size of your pretzels. Our zoftig ones took about 12 minutes.
Brush with melted butter (or don't, you health nuts) and sprinkle with the powdered flavor of your choice. I prefer mine with coarse kosher salt and some spicy mustard. Charlie likes Johnny's Garlic Spread. Audrey likes hers (or so we thought) with cinnamon and sugar, but then she just licked the sugar off and decided she just liked them plain the best.
- Jalapeno Cheese - Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and sliced peppers before placing in the oven.
- Pizza - Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, and serve with marinara dipping sauce.
- Cinnamon Roll - Sprinkle with Cinnamon and sugar before baking and drizzle with icing after.
What's your favorite way to enjoy a soft pretzel??