Weather: 27 degrees, expecting another “warm” day today, above freezing What I’m listening to: Sara Groves, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
When you think about the holidays, you think of the hustle and bustle of shopping – going from store to store with Christmas music playing, parents with children waiting in line to take pictures with Santa, and the smell of hot freshly-baked pretzels from the nearby stand. Here on the Kenai Peninsula, we don’t have a mall or a pretzel shop, so I made these at home.
I made them smaller than the ones you can buy, closer to the size of a bagel. And I added pumpkin because it just sounded like a fabulous idea. When they came hot out of the oven, I coated them with melted butter and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. The real trick is to get them uniform in size so that they bake evenly, brown and firm on the outside and soft (but not doughy) on the inside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, allow yeast, sugar, and warm water to stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add pumpkin puree and oil and mix gently, followed by sugar and salt.
Gradually add flour until dough comes together and forms a ball (you may not need the last 1/4-1/2 cup, depending on the amount of liquid in your pumpkin puree). Knead with the dough hook attachment 5-10 minutes.
Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425. Grease a large baking sheet.
Prepare your hot water. Pour into a shallow dish, add baking soda, and stir. Set aside.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and divide into 6-8 evenly sized balls. Roll balls into foot-long ropes. Twist each rope into a pretzel shape.
Dip each pretzel into the baking soda bath and place directly onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, watching carefully. Pretzels should be brown on the outside and cooked through.
Melt butter and brush a layer on top of each hot pretzel. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Serve warm.