This sweet pretzel is a tender, chewy, doughy little bit of goodness. Unlike it’s savory counterpart, it is made with a gorgeous sweet dough and topped with pearl sugar bits. It has a subtle hint of sweetness without being cloying. It is soft, light, and fluffy. Great for breakfast, a quick snack, or as a tasty treat with afternoon tea or coffee. And although it is good enough to eat plain, it was just beautiful paired with some lingonberry jam.
These sweet pretzels and the dough they are made from were featured in bon appétit magazine in April of 2012. I know this not because I am a savant with regards to food publication dates, but because I received first Gourmet magazine and then bon appétit for years and years. I’ve misplaced the odd one, but I have most of the issues stored in the game room closet dating back to 2006 or so. Stored in date order, of course.
Back then, I would always check the mailbox when I came home from the office, and then I would change clothes and go straight to the kitchen to make dinner. On the days when a new issue arrived, while one of the boys was cleaning the kitchen after dinner, I would sit in my favorite chair in the family room, with a glass of wine, and go through every single page. I would often find something I just had to try and make, so I was often bending the corners of pages to mark the spot. And I was rarely disappointment with the results.
The other day I was in the game room closet and I saw all those old magazines. It struck me, at that moment, that I could relive those happy moments of the past by going through the issues all over again. So, that’s what I did, and this recipe is one of the ones that called to me. So I decided to share it with all of you.
LET’S LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE SWEET PRETZELS
This is what you need for the sweet dough. Make sure that everything is at room temperature.
The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter. I used Irish butter. Be sure to cut it into one-inch squares.
And once the dough is made, this is all you need to top the sweet pretzels.
I know people who are intimidated by yeast doughs, and therefore, refuse to attempt them. I can assure everyone that this dough is not only easy, but it has the most amazing texture, thanks to the generous amounts of butter, milk, and eggs. It is very brioche-like in texture. It’s just a gorgeous dough.
Start by warming the milk, mixing it with a tablespoon of the sugar and mixing in the yeast. Five minutes later and you have a foamy, active mix like the picture above.
Whisk in the eggs and set the mixture aside.
Next, add the flour, remaining sugar, and salt into the bowl of an upright mixer with a paddle attachment. Give it a quick turn to mix. Then add the yeast, milk, and egg. Mix on medium speed. Use a spatula to push any loose flour back into the middle so everything gets well blended.
Then add the butter one square at a time. Once the dough ball forms, increase the speed to medium high and knead for about five minutes.
You should end up with a soft, smooth ball of dough like the one pictured above.
Place the dough in a bowl brushed with melted butter, brush more butter over the top of the dough, and cover it with plastic wrap.
Let it sit in a warm, draft-free area for about 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Then punch it down, and on a flour-dusted surface, cut the dough into 12 equally-sized pieces.
Roll each piece into a long rope, about a foot and a half long. Then, shape the rope into a U, cross the rope about halfway down the sides of the U, and tuck the ends over or under the bottom curve of the U. I had the best luck maintaining a pretzel shape by tucking one end under and the other over, making a sort of knot.
Be sure to keep the unshaped dough pieces as well as the shaped pretzels under a dish towel so the dough does not dry out.
Finally, place the shaped pretzels, six each, on two parchment-covered baking sheets. Cover with a dish towel and allow them to become puffy. They don’t have to double in size.
Next, brush them generously with egg wash and sprinkle some of the pearl sugar over the top. If you don’t have or can’t find pearl sugar, use turbinado sugar. You want larger than normal sugar crystals both to flavor the surface of the dough as well mimic the coarse salt usually found on top of savory pretzels.
Then bake in a 375° F, with one baking sheet on a rack in the top third of the oven and the other on a rack in the bottom third of the oven. After 10 minutes, rotate the sheets and continue baking until the pretzels are golden brown. Do not over-bake or they may become dry.
Like I said, I had mine with lingonberry jam, and it was AMAZING! The dough is so delicately sweet. Trust me, a nice jam will not take it over the top and make it sickeningly sweet.
You can just tell from the way they baked up how light and fluffy they are. And soft and chewy.
How can you beat light and fluffy AND soft and chewy? I don’t think you can. So, you’ll just have to make a batch of these and prove to yourself that there is no beating these beautiful sweet pretzels.
- SWEET DOUGH
- 2/3 cup milk
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast one 1/4-ounce envelope
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter cut into 1-inch pieces, plus 1/2 tablespoon melted
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 6 tablespoons pearl sugar or turbinado sugar
- Heat milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat (or in a microwave) to 110°-115° F.
- Transfer to a 2-cup measuring cup, stir in 1 tablespoon of the sugar and whisk in the yeast.
- Let it sit for about 5 minutes or until the yeast becomes foamy.
- Then whisk in the two eggs.
- Combine the remaining sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of an upright mixer.
- Add the yeast mixture and with the mixer running, add the butter one piece at a time.
- Mix on medium speed until dough ball forms and the ingredients are well blended.
- Then knead on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, or until the dough is soft and smooth.
- Brush a medium bowl with melted butter, place the dough in the bowl, and brush the top of the dough with melted butter.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to double in size (about 1 1/2 hours).
- To make the pretzels, punch the dough down and turn onto a flour-dusted surface.
- Cut the dough into 12 equally-sized pieces.
- While shaping the pretzels, keep both the pieces of unshaped dough as well as the shaped pretzels under a dish towel to prevent drying.
- Roll each piece into a rope about 1 1/2 feet long, and shape into a pretzel knot.
- Place the shaped pretzels on two parchment paper-covered baking sheets.
- Cover with a dish towel and allow the pretzels to become puffy. About 30 minutes. They do not have to double in size.
- While the pretzels are rising, preheat the oven to 375° F and place one rack in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third.
- When the pretzels are puffy, whisk the water and the egg white together.
- Brush the tops of the pretzels with the egg wash, then sprinkle with pearl or turbinado sugar.
- Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Rotate the baking sheets in the oven and bake until they are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes more.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.