I love baking and usually do it from scratch. But now and then it’s fun to get a little help from a mix, especially if it’s something I haven’t tried to make before. Tonight I tried out Auntie Anne’s At-Home Soft Pretzel kit.
You’ve probably had an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. They’re found in many malls as well as airports. They’re the soft pretzels with yummy dipping sauces like marina sauce, butter cream frosting, cheddar cheese dip, or cream cheese. My personal favorite are the Auntie Anne’s pretzel sticks with cream cheese dip.
The kit comes with everything you need to make 8-10 soft pretzels – dough mix, cinnamon and sugar sprinkle, sea salt, yeast, and baking soda (my baking soda packet had a hole in it – that’s it all over the counter in the photo). The instructions are pretty straight forward, but I could have made a few mistakes along the way had I not had previous dough experience. Rising took much longer than the instructions noted as did proofing the yeast. That said, it appear to be pretty fool-proof because my son declared them the best thing I’ve made in awhile.
Standard bread-making applies here. Mix the yeast and water. Add the flour packet. Mix. Knead. Rise….go off and read a book for 30 minutes or if you’re working with kids, take the time to explain how yeast works and what the rising process does. It’s a great learning experience that’s fun, too!
My dough took longer than 30 minutes because my kitchen was too cold. Once risen, shape, dip, sprinkle, bake! I was surprised that there wasn’t a second rising time, although my second pan did get one by way of waiting for the first pan to come out of the oven. Those pretzels were larger, but the taste was the same. My rolling varied widely on purpose. My family likes very doughy pretzels, I like mine thin and almost crunchy. By varying the size we all got what we wanted and they all baked at the same rate.
Sorry for the not-so-great photos. I decided to bake late at night when there’s never enough light in the kitchen. Anyway, next bake and just after they’re removed from the oven, brush them with melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mix. That’s it! Make your own dips or enjoy them plain. They can be warmed up in the microwave for about 20 seconds the next day as well.
By the way, I did try a silicone baking sheet as well as the sprayed baking pan. The baking pan won for best browned bottom and non-stick.
What do I think? For a novice baker, the kit would be a great way to make some home-made pretzels. I’d highly recommend visiting the Auntie Anne’s site and viewing the how-to video there before starting. There are also optional recipes available and lots of hints and tips to be successful.
The kit also a great way to get the kids involved with limited work on mom’s part. My only complaint that while it’s available at many retailers, I’m not able to find a online source. The kit retails for about $ 7.99 and can be found at Kmart, Sam’s Club, and some Auntie Anne’s. For a complete list, visit the Auntie Anne’s website.