Today I must share a secret with you. Are you ready? I want to share with you my most favorite thing to play with in the kitchen. Have you guessed it yet? Well if you’re judging by the picture above and answer yeast, you’re absolutely correct.
Years ago, when I first became acquainted with my friend, yeast, our first kitchen experiment together was homemade Cinnamon Rolls. It was so exciting to watch the yeast dough rise to double its size, then turn around and punch it back down. If that alone wasn’t enough to peak my interest in yeast, the wonderful aroma of yeast bread baking in the oven certainly was. From that moment on, I’ve had a love affair with yeast.
If you’ve always been intimidated by yeast, stop…don’t run. Yeast is your friend and nothing to be afraid of. Once you start playing around with yeast, you’ll not only see how fun and easy it is to work with, but you’ll also find there is an endless array of delectable recipes you can make.
There’s only one simple step you must follow when it comes to yeast. This simple step is simply making sure you use the correct temperature of water to dissolve the yeast. Yep…that simple. The water should be very warm, anywhere from 110 to 115 degrees is perfect. You can go a couple of degrees warmer, but I wouldn’t go over that. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast. But really, how hard is that? Just dip an instant read thermometer in the water and you can’t go wrong.
The funnest thing about working with yeast is watching it rise to double its size. However, the hardest thing about working with yeast, is waiting for the recipe to finish baking in the oven. The aroma simply drives me crazy!!
I couldn’t wait to get started on making these soft and fluffy pretzels. It was so easy. I mixed up the easy yeast dough and let it rise…then I cut it into twelve equal pieces.
Using my hands, I rolled each piece of dough into a long rope and twisted each one into a pretzel.
Then I simply dipped each pretzel in some luke warm baking soda water and placed them on baking sheets. There are actually two different methods for dipping the pretzels. Let me explain, so you can decide which one you prefer if you make pretzels.
Hot Bath Method – This method results in a pretzel that has a darker and thicker outside layer. The inside of the pretzel is dense and heavy and has a chewy consistency. The pretzel dough is dipped in hot boiling baking soda water for a few seconds per side. The pretzel is actually slightly cooked in the dipping process. I would probably prefer this method for salted pretzels versus cinnamon sugar pretzels, but to each his own.
Cold Bath Method – This method, (the method I used), results in a pretzel that is light and fluffy on the inside and has a thin, soft and lighter colored outside layer. Water is heated to a very hot temperature followed by whisking baking soda in the water until it completely dissolves. Once the baking soda dissolves, the water is allowed to cool to lukewarm for dipping the pretzel dough. I think this method is perfect for pretzels dipped in cinnamon sugar.
I baked them for about seven minutes while smelling the wonderful aroma and watching the oven. Then at last, I got to brush melted butter on each one and dip them in angel dust, aka cinnamon sugar. On my!!
Oh yes…I had to meet my neighbor Peggy at the fence and share them with her, so my stomach wouldn’t keep rising like the yeast dough. Too late!!
Have you ever made anything with yeast? If so, what did you make?
- 2 cups warm milk, 110 - 115 degrees
- 2 packets yeast, 1/4 ounce each
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 cups hot water
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, in the large bowl of a stand mixer. Once the mixture becomes foamy, about three minutes, add the brown sugar, salt, butter and two cups of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, (you don't need the hook attachment), mix until the flour is incorporated. Add two more cups of the flour and mix to incorporate again. The dough should be just slightly sticky. If it is too wet, add a little more flour.
- Transfer dough to a large bowl that has been well greased. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place, free of drafts, for about one hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Transfer dough to a floured surface. Divide dough into twelve equal portions. Using your hand roll each piece of dough into a long rope, about eighteen inches long. Form each piece of dough into a "U" shape. Take the ends and cross them over each other once, then again. Bring the tips upward to the top of dough and press the tips lightly into the dough, pinching the dough together with your fingers, (see pictures above for forming the pretzels). Transfer pretzels to parchment lined cookie sheets, six per cookie sheet.
- Place the water in a large microwave safe bowl. Heat water in microwave until it's hot but not boiling. (You want it hot enough to dissolve the baking soda). Whisk the baking soda into the hot water and keep whisking until the baking soda has completely dissolved. Allow the water to cool to warm. Dip pretzels, two to three at a time in the water/baking soda mixture. Leave for two minutes and transfer back to the parchment lined cookie sheets. The pretzel dough will puff up after the water bath.
- Bake for approximately 7 minutes until pretzels are golden brown. Do not over brown. Transfer pretzels to sheets of waxed or parchment paper.
- Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush each hot pretzel with melted butter and dip in the sugar cinnamon mixture.
- Pretzels do not need to be refrigerated but are best if eaten the same day.
- It is important to make sure the baking soda is completely dissolved in the hot water. If it is not, you will taste the baking soda in the pretzels once they're baked.
- Prep time includes one hour of rising for the yeast.