Ballpark pretzels: the perfect snack

Ballpark pretzels, fresh out of the oven

I've always wanted to try making bread at home, so what's better than starting off with ballpark pretzels? They're simple and tasty, definitely making them comfort food in my books. You can make original pretzels with a coat of melted butter and coarse salt (they go perfectly well with a pint of cold and crisp beer), but I had a craving for something sweet, so I made cinnamon sugar pretzels instead.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Waiting time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Recipe Makes 8 Pretzels

Pretzels

* 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 F)
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt * 3 cups flour
* 2 tablespoons melted butter
* Vegetable oil, for pan
* 10 cups water
* 2/3 cup baking soda
* 2 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Topping

* Melted butter
* Sugar
* Ground Cinnamon

Let's Begin

1. To make the dough, combine warm water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of stand mixer and sprinkle dry yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter. Next, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until it’s 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. Kneading the dough can also be done by hand if you don't have a mixer.

2. 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 let sit in a warm place for approximately an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.



3. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly brush it with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

4. When the dough is ready, lightly flour your working surface and divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 2-4 inch rope. Make a u-shape with the rope and keep holding the ends to cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the "u" in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place the pretzels on the baking tray and leave at room temperature for 1 hour. This dries out the surface and makes them easier to handle.



5. Preheat the oven to 450 F (225 C).

6. In an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan, bring the 10 cups of water to a boil. Cut the heat and slowly add baking soda to prevent from overflowing. Bring it back to a boil and add the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula and put it back on the baking tray. This step will create a shiny, brown crunchy pretzel shell.



Cooking the pretzels in boiling soda water gives them the shiny, brown crunchy shell. Cooking it too long will make the pretzel too chewy when they get out of the oven. Boiling them not long enough will make them rise too much in the oven.

7. Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture. We are not adding the cinnamon sugar until the pretzels are done baking to prevent them from burning. However, if you are making original pretzels, I recommend sprinkling salt on top right after the egg wash.



Bake until dark golden brown, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes. Melt butter in a deep dish and dip the pretzels in the butter. Make sure the front and back are coated evenly. Prepare another dish with a ground cinnamon and sugar mix. It is up to you how strong of a cinnamon taste you want on the pretzel. I recommend adding the ground cinnamon teaspoon by teaspoon to the sugar so you can try the mix before you dip the pretzels in it. You can always just sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top once you have dipped the pretzel in butter if you find that easier or prefer less topping.



If you're not a fan of cinnamon and salt is too boring for you, I recommend trying poppy seeds or sesame seeds as a topping. You can also purchase dips for the pretzels, or make your own cheese sauce for a savoury pretzel. If you have a sweet tooth, you can even make a melted chocolate dip. 

Indulge and Enjoy.

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