Does anyone have childhood memories that they look back on and you realize that you remembered it totally wrong? Like there is no way that memory could be correct, but you were adamant as a child it was valid. Well when I was about 6 or 7, my parents took a trip to New York City with my brother and me. Somehow, in my head, I just remember this trip as the vacation where I was forced to walk 13 miles as a 6 year old, without stopping. Now, obviously that wasn't correct. Especially because I know my parents and in no way would we be walking 13 miles voluntarily. I distinctly remember telling my first grade teacher this fact and she just went along with it like that was normal. Honestly surprised no one called DCF. But my little 6 year old brain could not fathom the amount of steps we were forced to take that day. I remember feeling defeated and being heavily dramatic. Something like complaining that the velcro on my shoes was wearing off. In an unlikely fashion, (my parents are not ones to reward complaining) but they satisfied my woes by buying me a giant soft pretzels the size of my head. Those soft, buttery pieces of pretzels gave me the substance and energy needed to trek back home and complete my journey to be the first six year old to walk a half marathon. Pretty sure we walked like 1.3 miles that day...
This story actually comes full circle on a beautiful spring day in Munich when I legitimately did walk 13 (ok maybe like 10) miles without stopping. My brother and I, hydrated on liter beers, and filled with liquid confidence, decided we didn't need to waste precious money on public transportation and would instead walk. This idea proved to be a health hazard when the beer wore off and the city of Munich does not appear to sell water bottles. Anyway at the end of my journey, I was again awarded with a giant German style pretzel. That all being said, soft pretzels and I have some sort of unique pavlov's dog like relationship.
1 1/2 cups warms water (110 to 115 degrees F)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup melted butter
10 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg beaten and 1 tablespoon water
coarse pretzel salt or sea salt
In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine water, salt, and sprinkle yeast over the mixture. Let rest for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam. Add in the flour and butter and mix together on low with the dough hook attachment until everything is combined and the dough mixture starts to pull away from the sides. Switch to medium speak and knead dough for 4 - 6 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and work into a ball. Oil the bowl with the vegetable oil, and place dough into the bowl. Cover with saran wrap and let rise in warm place for 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease two baking pans and set aside. Bring the ten cups of water to a boil and add in the baking soda. While the water is boiling, turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into roughly 15 pieces. The amount of pieces depends on what size pretzels you would like. Since I was serving mine as appetizers, I opted for a smaller pretzel. If you want big New York style pretzels, divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 12 - 15 inch rope. Make a U shape with the dough and fold over the two ends to create a criss cross. Press hard on the ends to secure them to the dough. Place the pretzel onto the baking sheet. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, or a flat spatula, and place onto the baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels have been boiled. Brush the pretzels with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle with the coarse pretzel salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown. Let cool for five minutes and serve immediately.