Soft Pretzels

soft pretzel main

These are not your mall’s soft pretzels.

Being female, one has certain reservations about eating things that are dripping in butter. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when the grease from what you’re eating soaks through any number of wax-paper containers and every napkin you use to wipe your hands off is equally covered in the molten fat that adheres the salt to its pretzel. What’s a girl to do??? MAKE THESE.

These aren’t butter-covered salt devils that call to you from the mall food court (although, if you want to douse yours in butter, be my guest!). These pretzels are soft and slightly sweet, with a buttery-flavored crust salted to your liking. This recipe makes 8 rather large pretzels, which I usually cool & freeze to reheat at my leisure (and they beat the pants off the “Super Pretzels” found in your grocer’s freezer)

I adapted this recipe from an episode of Bobby Flay’s “Throwdown” … I’m not sure if he won or not, but I’ve never received any complaints about these babies.  Then again, it’s pretty hard to talk with a mouthful of pretzel ^_^

You can find his recipe here; I’m always tempted to make his queso dip to accompany it, but I know my (lack of) self-restraint, so I’ve refrained thus far. My recipe is pretty much the same, I just use brown sugar instead of the ‘muscovado’ sugar—which is more expensive and harder to find.

Soft Pretzels

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (not hot) water
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 3 ounces (6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (1/2 cup reserved)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • Egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbsp water, beaten well)
  • Coarse sea salt

Line two large baking pans with parchment paper .

*Note: Use parchment paper here. This last time, in the interest of saving my precious parchment paper, I used aluminum foil… YOUR PRETZELS WILL STICK. They come off fine once they’ve cooled, but who wants to eat a cold pretzel!?

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, let sit until mixture is nice and foamy (appx 5 minutes).

Mix 4 ½ cups flour and the 2 ½ tsp salt in a separate bowl. Add ½ cup flour mixture to the bowl of the mixer and mix on low with dough hook until just incorporated. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3-4 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add reserved flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Pour dough onto flat surface and knead into a ball. It doesn’t require a lot of kneading, since the dough hook has already done most of the work. You just want it to be in a nice, smooth ball shape.

Put about a tablespoon or two of oil into a bowl and work it up the sides, add the dough and turn to. Cover until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

**This part is tricky** Every time I make these, I forget about this part, and my entire stovetop becomes a horrible, white mess. Two things are of vital importance here: 1- Baking soda is very bubbly. 2- Added to rapidly-boiling water, it will volcano out of your pot and cover your entire stovetop, and you’ll be left with a terrible, white mess and half the amount of water you originally had. This last time, I FINALLY nailed it without boiling over (but it did take a bit more time)

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. (This will happen faster if you leave the lid on while you’re heating it). Once boiling, pull it off of the stove and (if you have a big enough sink, it’s probably not a bad idea to just place the pot in there—just in case) ^_^ gently sprinkle baking soda into the water, a little at a time, until all ¾ cup has been used.

Place the pot back on the hot burner, cover with the lid slightly ajar (to speed up boiling—be careful it can still overflow if you’re not paying attention) and bring it back to a rapid boil.

To shape the pretzels:

Place dough ball onto a flat surface & divide into about 8 equal pieces. I use my handy scraper or a knife & cut it like a pie into 8 wedges. Roll each piece into a long rope 20-22inches and shape into a pretzel

To shape them, I grab each end (so the dough rope is now a “U”-shape), place the majority of the bottom of the “U” and twist the ends of the rope together, crossing twice. Next time I’ll have a helper take pictures for me, promise.

You know what a pretzel looks like, right?

Boil the pretzels in the water solution, 1 or 2 at a time for 30 seconds, splashing the tops, and remove with a spider. On each baking sheet, put 4 pretzels, brush lightly with egg wash and season with desired amount of salt. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until pretzels are golden brown & your house smells delicious. If you’re worried about doneness, tap the center twist- if it sounds hollow-ish it’s cooked through.

Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before eating.

*If you aren’t going to eat all eight at once, feel free to freeze some. Once cooled completely, place them into a freezer-safe bag (or wrap individually in foil and place in a regular Ziploc bag). 

To reheat microwave for about a minute, check doneness and continue to microwave in 20 second intervals… or microwave for 30 seconds & put into a 400F oven for about 5 minutes, until the outside is nicely toasted.

*If you’re not freezing them, store them like you would store a bagel—in a paper bag or in an airtight container. If you store them in a plastic bag they won’t be as tasty the next day.

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