Cooking with Soft Water: Homemade Pretzels

Reminiscent of baseball games, movie theaters and family outings, soft pretzels are a staple of American culture in summer. Making them at home takes just a few ingredients and about eight minutes in the oven. It may sound strange, but the perfect pretzel comes from using water treated by a water softener. Soft water lacks high levels of calcium and magnesium. This ensures that food cooked using soft water will have a true flavor, untainted by the presence of these minerals.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need, thanks to a recipe from All Recipes:

  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

Then, follow the instructions below! Using soft water, for this recipe ensures that the dough won’t be stiff. Hard water makes the dough less pliable.

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two more tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Grease 2 baking sheets.
  4. In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water; set aside. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8 minutes.

Although this recipe takes a bit of time for the dough to rise, the end result is well worth it! Who knew a water softener could make food so tasty? Kinetico San Antonio water systems ensure a great result every time!

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