Today is National Pretzel Day, a holiday that is actually Pennsylvanian — due to the state's early German and Dutch settlers who popularized the snack. It was declared not once, but twice in a span of twenty years by two Pennsylvanian politicians. So celebrate it for the pretzels, which are pretty great eats if done well. It also beats honoring Richter Scale Day — a holiday that's a lot more relevant to Angelenos — which is also today. No offense to seismologists.
Apparently, National Pretzel Day falls in a month that has been dedicated specifically to soft pretzels. Thus Tom Bergin's Tavern is offering a special in celebration of pretzel awareness — with a soft pretzel and beer pairing. For $9, you'll get a soft pretzel and three 7-ounce beers.
If you can't stop by Tom Bergin's, or other stellar pretzel spots around town like Rockenwagner or Wirsthaus, there's always the fresh batch you can make at home. The tavern's pastry chef Ann Kirk shared a recipe.
Tom Bergin's Soft Pretzels
From: Ann Kirk
1.2 ounces fresh yeast
About two cups warm water
2 1/2 tsp + 4 Tbasp barley malt syrup
4 ounces dark rye flour
24 ounces all-purpose flour
4 tsp kosher salt
10 cups water
½ cup baking soda
1. In mixer bowl, combine yeast warm water and barley malt syrup. Let sit until bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, measure dark rye, all-purpose flour and salt. Mix so that salt is blended in with flours.
2. When yeast is bubbly, add flour mixture in and paddle together until just combined. Pour dough onto work surface and knead by hand until smooth. Dough will be a little tacky.
3. Transfer dough to a greased or pan-sprayed bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
4. When dough has doubled, turn out onto work surface and divide into 3 ½ ounce portions (or whatever size you want). With two palms, roll each portion into a long snake, bring the ends close like a U, cross them and twist, and flip this end over to connect at the bottom of your pretzel. Continue with the rest of your dough, and transfer them to a greased or pan-sprayed sheet tray.
5. Cover with a kitchen towel and let proof for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, freeze for ease in the boiling process!
6. In a medium or large pot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Slowly add the baking soda and barley malt syrup. Boil a couple pretzels at a time for about 30 seconds, flip each pretzel over halfway through. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and place on tray lined with a cooling rack to drain.
7. After all pretzels have boiled, transfer to a greased or pan-sprayed sheet tray.
8. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with kosher salt or pretzel salt. Bake at 425º Fahrenheit for 16-20 minutes.
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