I am a pool girl. My kids are pool kids.
Now, some background. I haven't always been a pool girl. I am a bookish girl, who doesn't mind spending her summers inside sipping iced tea, devouring book after book. To prove my point, the summer that I was 11 or 12 years old, I won the summer reading program at my library. I read over 100 books that summer.
Now, some history. My mom is a water girl. She grew up at the lake, surround by her nieces and nephews (who were older than her!). My mom is also a pool mom. As a kid, I went to the pool a lot with my mom. I would have been just fine in the living room reading. But I went to the pool with her. I took a book with me a lot.
When I became a mom almost 8 years ago (Ah! Where has that time gone??), my mom and I took my baby to the pool. He loved it. The next summer, we went to the pool again. And the next summer. And the next.
For the past 8 summers, my mom and I have lived together at the pool with my kids. I am still the girl who would be ok with wasting my lazy summer days reading. But I go swimming. My kids love it. And it has kind of grown on me, too. (Each pregnancy has yielded more "tannable" skin, so I now enjoy that perk!)
What does this have to do with pretzels, you are likely wondering and almost shouting at me through your computer screen. Ok, ok!! We eat pretzels at the pool. Not really the most refreshing snack--hot pretzel, spicy cheese, hot sun. But, in my nerdy mind, soft pretzels and swimming pools go together. You just have to accept that about me.
Today, there is about 6 inches of snow on the ground outside of my house. A far cry from summer pool days. Making pretzels today is my way of saying that I am ready for the pool again.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Source: Joy the Baker
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pretzel salt or grill seasoning
1 heaping Tablespoon baking soda (add it to the boiling water just before throwing in the pretzel dough!)
Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 110°F) in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough.** Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes. (Dough needs to be somewhat sticky to facilitate rolling and forming into pretzels).
Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 8 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 24 inches long. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour. Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (Dough will retract as you form the pretzel.)
Transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form 7 more pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.
Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add heaping tablespoon of baking soda. The baking soda will help the pretzels brown.
Using both hands, carefully add 2 (maybe 3) pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes. Transfer parboiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining 5 pretzels in 2 batches.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet. Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.
**I share this recipe with you the way I found it, but I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer with the dough hook to make the dough. I kneaded with the mixer for 8 minutes.
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