Who else besides me loves a warm Auntie Anne’s pretzels when shopping at your local mall? I mean how could one not notice the heavenly scent of fresh-baked pretzels upon entering the food court area? The dark and warm outer layer, soft all on the inside, with no salt and a touch of unsalted butter is enough to send me over to plop my cash down, and cave into my savory desire that takes me back to the good old days of being a teenager hanging out at the mall window shopping at Spencer’s, the thick vanilla’s shakes at Bob’s Big Boy, spending my allowance at the arcade leaving me enough money to stop and get a pretzel before heading home.
Auntie Anne’s didn’t start as some may have thought. When Anne Beiler and her husband Jonas bought a stand in a weekly Pennsylvania farmers’ market, her ambitions were modest. The founder and CEO of Auntie Anne’s started the company after enduring personal and family trauma. Today it’s the largest soft-pretzel franchise in the world, and its 1,200 outlets are in malls, airports, and boardwalk in 26 countries. Auntie Anne’s is now owned by Focus Brands, and it generated sales of $410 million in 2012.
The recipe for Auntie Anne’s is a pretty guarded secret, but I did find a recipe and adapted it from “King Arthur’s Flour” the version I decided to make is with whole wheat flour.
The yeast I tried is from Dr Oetker and the yeast did not have to sit in a warm bath of water first. It went from the packet to flour mixture and rose like a champ!
One other thing I noticed when I was looking for a good pretzel recipe was, when it came time to allow the dough to rise, most sites called for the dough to rise in a ziplock bag???
Perhaps that’s the chosen method, but if you want your dough to rise properly, whether it be pizza, bread, dinner rolls or pretzels, is after you’re done kneading the dough, put it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a warm damp kitchen towel.
From there just place it in a room free of drafts and/or cold air.
You really want to follow the following three key things to making the perfect soft pretzel at home. Knead your dough to dispel all air pockets. You need to allow the dough to properly rise. Finally before your hand rolled pretzels get into the oven, make sure to give them a soda wash for about ten seconds.
A soda wash gives pretzels the deep dark color, texture and soft all inside. These three things are what makes soft pretzels so popular.
Light airy and not heavy or dense, with a nice glistening color!!
With football season upon us skip the bowl of nachos, bake some whole wheat pretzels and serve with a honey mustard, or spicy cream cheese dip, or right out of the oven with just a brush of unsalted butter. This is also an easy snack for a kids sleep over.
So remember you don’t need to always run to the mall for a pretzel fix, or reach for a bag of chips with a high sodium content. Just reach for the wheat flour instead, you won’t regret it!!!
For the Dough:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
1 packet Yeast
1 cup warm water, 120-125 degrees
For the Soda Wash:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp baking soda
sea salt, for sprinkling
unsalted butter, melted, cinnamon sugar
melted cheese, honey mustard
Combine all ingredients for the dough in a large bowl. Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, hand mixer, or just mix by hand using a wooden spoon until somewhat combined
Change to the dough hook and knead on medium low for 10 minutes, or knead by hand. The dough shouldn’t be sticky, just tacky to the touch.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp warm kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and lightly grease a baking sheet with a little vegetable oil.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a clean countertop. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, you can use a dough cutter, knife and if you have a kitchen scale you can measure out the dough.
Whisk together the warm water and baking soda and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. The baking soda wont dissolve completely, so don’t worry.
Roll each of the eight pieces into a long rope, and shape each one into a pretzel.
Dip pretzels one at a time into the soda wash and place onto the greased baking sheet.
Let the pretzels rest on the sheet tray for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt if so desired.
Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until the pretzels are golden brown. Brush the pretzels with the melted butter while they are hot out of the oven, or toss in a cinnamon sugar mixture.
Serve and enjoy!
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