Make pretzels at home

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homemade pretzel
Bake your own pretzels for the perfect doughy snack
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Make pretzels at home for a simple and satisfying traditional snack

As a married guy, I've spent many long hours at the shopping mall waiting for my wife to do whatever it is wives do for many long hours at the shopping mall. It's not in the wedding vows but all married men know it's one of the keys to a happy marriage.

Fortunately, shopping malls recognize how hard this is on us men and have little shops offering a delicious treat to help us pass the time - hot soft pretzels. Since my wife does a lot of shopping, I've become addicted to these chewy delights and have found a great easy recipe so I can make pretzels at home.

This recipe makes one dozen pretzels. To avoid an emergency trip to the supermarket, take out these ingredients ahead of time: dry active yeast, all-purpose flour, table salt, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, baking soda and kosher salt. If you're thinking about making some tasty dessert pretzels, have some cinnamon handy too.

Place 1-1/4 cups water in a small bowl and heat in the microwave until warm to the touch - about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Dissolve 4 teaspoons active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in the water and let it stand until the yeast gets foamy and creamy, usually about 10 minutes.

Put 5 cups all-purpose four, 1/2 cup sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons in a large bowl and mix them together. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Mix with a spoon and form a ball; if the dough is too dry, add a teaspoon of water and keep mixing.

Sprinkle a little flour on a plastic or wooden cutting or kneading board, plop the dough ball in the middle and kneed it for 8 minutes. Rub some oil in another large bowl, place the dough ball in it, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot for an hour until it doubles in size.

When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put 1/2 cup baking soda in a large bowl, add hot water and stir until dissolved. Flour the board again and put the dough ball in the middle. Using a big knife or a dough cutter, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.

Roll each dough piece in a rope of pretzel thickness and form a pretzel. I make the easiest shape by making a U and crossing each end backwards, but you can do the classic style too. Grease a large baking pan, jelly roll pan or cookie sheet (or use parchment paper), dip each pretzel in the dissolved baking soda and place on the pan.

Sprinkle them with kosher salt or cinnamon for dessert pretzels. You can also experiment with onion flakes, poppy seed or other toppings.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 8 minutes until they're golden brown. When they're done baking, take them out and wait a few minutes until they're cool, then enjoy a hot soft pretzel at home.

If you want to keep your marriage happy, let your wife have one too!

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