Pretzels have power, in case you were clueless of the fact. You know, carbohydrates = calories = energy = powa! Why, what were yoooou thinking? It doesn't matter, even if pretzels weren't powafull I'd still eat them.
I'm not speaking of tiny, crisp pretzels (though those are amazing dipped in various dippins, such as natural peanut butter, flavored peanut butter, hummus, white bean dip, tuna... I'll stop while I'm ahead), I'm speaking of soft pretzels (which would also taste good dipped in the aforementioned dippins).
Before I elaborate on how it went down, my dad was talking of the lye dip, and hearing what he said confirms that I will never be lye-dipping. The pretzels. He said that he and his friend were contemplating how to remove the really bad clog of his friend's kitchen drain. They decided to use lye (something about that particular brand... Drano, I think it was, that used to have lye? Okay, after a quick search, they use sodium hydroxide, which is soda lye... holy horrors, it's made from ashes... eww, and toothpaste, cologne, body wash... This is a sick world we live in, SICK world!) and decided to pour down more than the recommended amount because the drain was REALLY clogged. The good part is that the drain cleared up. The bad part was the fumes became so intense, they had to immediately evacuate the premises for a few hours.
Oh, the shapes, squares and snakes!Back to soft pretzels. I made them. I ate them. Okay, that was stupid! For reasons of unexplainable reasons, I have never made soft pretzels before. Making them confirmed my stupidity. Heed from my mistakes. YOOU! Make da pretzel, harness tha POWA! But don't fight the power -- that'll negate the soft pretzel effect.
I did briefly boil these in boiling water and baking soda and I think it helped the crust come out closer to what you would associate a soft pretzel to taste like than a non-dipped pretzel. The outtards (or in bread terms, the crust) were nice and chewy, a bit crispy from coming out of the oven but not like artisan crispy, and the innards (or crumb) was soft, tasted better than a regular white bread despite being practically the exact same dough. Hmm, not practically, it was. But it had a different taste. Not sourdough-y, but seemingly richer and with a heightened flavor. It was good, so there.
See the baked-ness of it?
I used the recipe from Emeril Lagasse's There's A Chef In My Soup, with a few tweaks in the process. He has you mixing the oil and all the brown sugar with the yeast/milk mixture, I did a teaspoon of sugar and added the oil after it finished the yeast activation. I didn't grease the bowl with two tablespoons of oil. The rest of the brown sugar was mixed with the flour and salt, and when I added that to the yeasted milk, it was a bit dry so I added enough water to maintain a stiff and slightly tacky dough. Then, I boiled it per the method of The Fresh Loaf's pretzel process. Then, I sprinkled some with kosher salt and baked until a rich, golden brown color occurred.
This was reeeaaally gooood, mwfuwahchomp-ness
The next day, I chose the pretzel that didn't have any holes because of how it rose/how I formed it, and it made the most amazing bread for a sandwich, ever! I opted for a vegetable and cheese sandwich, mainly so the bread's taste could come through, and how it did! I faintly remember eating a sandwich from Bennigan's that was made with pretzel bread and this reminded me of that.
This is actually the first sammich (that I can recall) that I've had this month
The bread was dense enough to not become a lump of wet bread, but not dense enough to be dry and disgusting
Now, my brain has gone into overdrive by trying to come up with ways to make flavored pretzels. Cinnamon-raisin, orange-cinnamon-raisin, asiago cheese pretzels, sun-dried tomato pretzels, the possibilities are endless!