Do you ever get those cravings that just won't go away? I read somewhere once that a craving only lasts about 10 minutes. To this I say, HA!! Mine last...days? Weeks? Sometimes I'm eating what I am craving ... and I'm craving it at the same time. Mind blowing, I know.
I got hit with a craving for soft pretzels recently and they were all I could think about. There used to be a soft pretzel place in the mall I worked at in high school, and I'd eat it for lunch every time I worked. There's something so good about soft, fluffy bread covered in salt. I mean really now, how could you go wrong? It was a sad, sad day in my teenage life when the pretzel place closed. These days, if I see a soft pretzel place - you know I'll be running over there to order up a tasty treat.
It's hard to have cravings like these and then having to figure out how to make it while we're up here. Especially when every recipe I came across talked about waiting for the dough to rise, followed by a million steps that all sounded complicated and time-consuming. It was a weeknight and I was in the mood for a pretzel, STAT. I ain't gots no time to wait for yeast to activate and dough to rise! This was a pretzel emergency!
Then I found it. A recipe that promised Quick Soft Pretzels in the same amount of time it takes to bake a batch of cookies. A short list of ingredients that were already in my pantry and I was up and in my kitchen faster than lightning. Under an hour later, I was happily munching on soft, fluffy pretzels and life was perfect. Try these. Eat a million of them. Make more and then eat those too! They're that good!
Quick Soft Pretzels
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
makes 8 pretzels.
1 1/2 C warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3-4 C flour
1 large egg, beaten in a wide, shallow dish
Coarse salt for tops
1. Preheat oven to 425. Prep cookie sheet by lining with parchment or greasing.
2. In bowl of stand mixer, stir together water, yeast, salt and sugar until dissolved.
3. Using hook attachment, dump in flour one cup at a time and mix until dough is no longer sticky and is pulling away from the bowl. (Note: If you don't have a stand mixer, you can do all this by hand using a wooden spoon.) To test if dough is ready for kneading, poke it and if it bounces back, it is ready.
4. Dump the dough onto a clean surface that's been dusted lightly with flour. Knead for about 5 minutes until it is a uniform and smooth ball. From here, you can either cut it into "pie" slices so they are fairly even, or weigh out chunks as equal as possible.
5. Roll out the dough into a rope - make sure it as even in diameter as possible. If you want really thick pretzels, roll the dough into a shorter rope. Thinner pretzels, longer rope. Mine were approx. 20 inches long. Twist the rope into a pretzel shape. Shape all the pretzels and set them aside until you're finished.
6. Make sure your beaten egg is in a dish large enough to dunk the pretzels. Coat the pretzels in the egg (both sides) and lay on the cookie sheet. (They will not spread when baking so you can lay them fairly close together, but make sure the sheet is lined or really well greased because they will stick!)
7. Sprinkle with course salt if using and bake for 10 minutes.
8. To brown the pretzels, broil for 3-5 minutes after baking, depending on how brown you want them.
9. Remove and let cool. Serve warm with dipping sauces - honey mustard, dijon mustard, cheese sauce...the possibilities are endless!
*To make a sweet version, brush with melted butter after pulling from oven and dunk immediately into cinnamon sugar.
Pretzels freeze really well in a ziploc bag or individually wrapped. To thaw, leave on counter for 30 minutes or pop it into the microwave for 2 minutes.