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Pretzels
Pretzels

1 c whole milk
4 tsp sugar
1/4 oz yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp shortening
3 c flour
Pretzel or kosher salt for sprinkling
Lye dip

The lye dip is an essential part of this recipe.  To prepare it, get a sealable container, and fill it with a gallon of cold water.  Wearing latex gloves and protective eye gear, *slowly* add 6 oz of  lye pellets, stirring carefully with a metal spoon until the pellets are dissolved. Seal the container until you are ready to use it.  Note: This stuff is not only poisonous, it is extremely caustic. It will eat a hole in your hand if you let it, so don't play any games with it & keep it far away from kids.  Flush any unintentional contact with water.

Warm the milk somewhat and dissolve the sugar and yeast into it.  

Add the salt and shortening.

Gradually add the flour.  As soon as you can work on it with your hands, move it to a pastry board and knead in enough of the flour to make a good stiff dough.  It shouldn't be sticky at all when you start forming the knots.

Form the knots: chop off a tenth or so of the dough.  Using both hands, roll it into a rope with tapered ends and a relatively thick middle.  Tie the characteristic pretzel knot shape.

Transfer the pretzel to a baking pan or something and cover it with a damp cloth to keep it fresh.

When you have them all formed, put them somewhere warm 80-90F) to rise for 1/2 hour or less.  

When they have risen, they will be somewhat ugly. Remove the covers and let them cool for 10 minutes or so in front of a fan or in the refrigerator until the outer skin has become tough and can take some handling.

You are now ready to dip and bake them.  Be careful here, as dipping them in liquid on the way into the oven makes them want to stick to just about every surface.  The best solution is to use bread stones with lots of cornmeal. Heat the oven to 400F.

 Remove your heated baking surface from the oven and place it close to your lye dip and ready-to-bake pretzels.  Wearing your protective gear, individually dip the pretzels and place them on the baking surface.  Be careful: the pretzels become fragile after being dipped.  After you have dipped them all, sprinkle salt on
the thick part and bake them for about 15 minutes.

These pretzels are fun to make and great to eat, but they don't keep very long.  After 10 hours or so, the sprinkled salt will begin to seep back into the dough and vanish entirely, and the dough will toughen.

PRETZELS
(12 soft pretzels)

Ingredients:
1 pkg  yeast
3 c bread flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1 c warm/hot water (whatever temperature you use for yeast breads)
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs water (any temperature)
coarse salt

Instructions:
Mix 1st four ingredients, knead, and let rise.  

Separate dough into 12 equally-sized blobs.  Mix egg yolk & Tbsp water in a bowl.  For each blob, roll into cylinder about 18 inches long, shape into a pretzel brush with egg stuff, sprinkle with coarse salt, and put on greased cookie sheet.

Note: Feel free to use egg substitute instead of the egg, or just skip the egg, and brush with only water (to help the salt stick).  Or, leave off the glaze and the salt entirely.

Let pretzels rise again for 30 minutes.  

Bake for 10-12 minutes in preheated 475 deg (F) oven.  Eat as soon as possible.

Pretzels

Ingredients:
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 c of warm water
2 3/4 c flour
2 tbs soft butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c baking soda
more water

Proof 1 package active dry yeast in 1 cup of warm water.

In a food processor or mixer, place: 1 1/2 cups flour 2 tablespoons soft butter 1/2 tsp salt

Add the yeast and beat or process for several minutes (longer than you think you should - you can start with cooler water if using the food processor, as it heats the dough up quite a bit.)

Add 1 1/4 cups flour, and knead until the dough is no longer sticky. Let rise in a covered greased bowl until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down and divide into 12 pieces.  Keep them under a towel until you
are ready to shape them.  Shape each piece into a large pretzel, and place on a greased sheet to rise for about 20 minutes.  

In the meantime, in a large non-aluminum skillet, heat a lot of water with about 1/2 cup baking soda in it.  If you have a bread baking stone or tile (recommended) place it in the oven to preheat to 500 degrees (yes, 500).  With a slotted spoon, carefully lower each pretzel into the simmering baking soda water, turn it to coat it, and then put it back onto the pan (or on the stone, whichever you are using).  Sprinkle each pretzel with coarse salt.

Bake about 10-15 minutes.  The pretzels will get a very shiny brown, thanks to the baking soda.  For extra crispness, let them bake the last 5 minutes directly on the lowest oven rack.

Pretzels

3 pkg yeast
3 3/4 c warm water
3 pinches sugar
6 tsp salt
12-15 c flour

Knead 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl and let rise until it doubles.  

Make ropes 18 inches long and twist into pretzle shape.

Boil:   4 cups water
           4 tsp. baking soda

Drop 3 pretzels in and boil 1 minute or until they float.  Remove, drain, and place on cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake @ 475 degrees for 12 minutes.

Can be frozen. Reheat when room temp at 200 degrees for a few minutes (or if frozen at 350 degrees for 5 minutes).