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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels

Cinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels
It's hard to believe that today is already the first day of October! The mornings and the evenings are now chilly, bordering on cold. Pumpkins and gourds have taken up residence on porches. The leaves are lighting the streets on fire with their brilliant colors, a few even finding their way underfoot as we walk to the bus stop wrapped in a cloak of darkness. Lamp posts that haven't been transformed into scarecrow poles are shrouded in brittle corn stalks. Pretzels of all shapes, sizes, and orientations are held in the highest of regard.

Wait, what? Pretzels? You better believe it. October is National Pretzel Month, and flanked by my small army of pretzel-lovers, we'll be celebrating it in style all month long in our house—starting now.

You know my affinity for celebrating food holidays, right? If it's your first time here, it's true. I grab hold and celebrate one whenever possible. It's just fun stuff. Well, it should come as no surprise that I'm joining a group of like-minded bloggers today, and we're inviting you to a party featuring all pretzels, all day long.

Cinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels
Normally I gravitate towards the savory side of pretzels, but I couldn't get the thought of a soft, warm pretzel with a cinnamon-sugar crust out of my head. And much to the chagrin of my oldest child, I also threw a handful of raisins into the mix...because come on—cinnamon-raisin! Some people have a major problem with plump shriveled grapes. I am not one of them. When they're still tender and plump and taste like a late summer's day, there is absolutely nothing like them. So, leave them out if you must, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Cinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels
These soft, chewy homemade pretzels are laced with cinnamon, studded with plump raisins, and topped with a cinnamon-sugar crust.
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Cinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 2-2.5 hours, mostly unattended
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Keywords: bake bread snack nut-free soy-free vegetarian cinnamon raisins flour

Ingredients (8 large soft pretzels)
    for the dough:
    • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (110-115°F)
    • 3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar, divided
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
    • 624 grams (22 ounces / ~4-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
    • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 85 grams (1/2 cup) raisins (any color, I used yellow)
    for the water:
    • ~3 1/2 quarts of water
    • 1 cup baking soda
    to finish:
    • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) melted butter
    • 100-150 grams (1/2 - 3/4 cup) granulated sugar
    • 2-3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
    Making the dough:
    Combine lukewarm water, 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let sit until the yeast starts to look creamy, ~5 minutes. Add flour, remaining brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, melted butter, and raisins and mix until combined. Turn speed up to medium and let knead until dough is just tacky and has cleaned the sides of the bowls, another 5 minutes or so.

    Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, ~1 hour.

    Forming the Pretzels:
    Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (these are big pretzels, I only put 4 per "regular" baking sheet; also known as a quarter sheet pan).

    Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide your dough into 8 equal portions, and roll them into balls. Set to one side of your work surface.
    dividing the dough
    Roll each portion into a rope that is 18"-24" long. Lift up ends of rope to form a sort of U-shape and then twist the two sides around each other and bring down to form a pretzel shape. Place on baking sheet and repeat with all of the dough portions, leaving at least an inch of space between each pretzel. Let sit uncovered while you prepare the water and preheat the oven.

    Bathing and Baking the Pretzels:
    Preheat oven to 450° F.

    Bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the baking soda a little bit at a time (this keeps it from overflowing).

    Using a slotted skimmer or flat, slotted spatula, gently lower one pretzel at a time into the boiling baking soda bath. Let each one stay in the water for 30 seconds, flipping gently halfway through. Carefully lift out and let water drain through the slots in your spoon before setting back onto lined baking sheets. Dough will be slightly puffed and very slippery.

    Finishing the Pretzels:
    Slide sheets into preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until deeply golden brown.
    baked, buttered, and dipped
    While the pretzels are in the oven, combine the cinnamon and sugar in a wide shallow bowl or pie tin (start with the lesser amount of each, and add more as needed). Set the melted butter in a bowl next to it.

    Once you've removed the pretzels from the oven (and while they're still warm), use a pastry brush to brush the top of each one with the melted butter. Immediately overturn the buttered top into the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then flip back over and set on a wire rack to cool.
    Cinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels

    Welcome to the Foodie Extravaganza!

    We are a group of bloggers who love to blog about food!  Each month we will decide on an all-famous National Monthly Food Holiday in which we will base our recipes around. This month the ingredient is pretzels (with an optional ingredient of caramel).

    October is National Pretzel Month along with a whole array of other delightful things—get excited! We hope you all enjoy our delicious pretzel treats this month and come back to see what we bring for you next month.  If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza.  We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE!

    And if you're looking for EVEN MORE pretzel recipes, check out my Pretzel-Perfect board on Pinterest!
    Follow Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez's board Pretzel-perfect on Pinterest.