Thursday, May 9, 2013

Soft pretzels

I love soft pretzels.  

I love their pully-ness, their softness, their saltiness.  

I love pulling them apart in bits and eating them dipped in mustard. 

I love standing and eating them while I think, of how much I enjoy standing and eating them.  Their chewiness forces you to eat them slowly, to enjoy them.  

I've been working on a recipe to make my own.  I nailed it.  I'm going to share it with you now.


*REMEMBER:  Bread is a living, breathing thing.  Measurements and amounts are as close as I can get making the dough in my house, my temperature, my humidity levels, my yeast levels.  You may have to add a little flour or extra water to get a smooth, soft, satiny, slightly oozy dough.  Do not worry about adding more of either to achieve your results.  "THEY" say that you have to be precise when baking, bread and bready products are the exception.  Don't be afraid, always go looser when in doubt.  You can ALWAYS add flour after a rise, you can't take it back out.  Don't ever worry or frown when making my breads, just wing it. 

My pretzels: 

TO make 6 pretzels

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp kosher salt (plus extra for sprinkling)
2 tsp brown sugar
3/4-1 cup warm water
DIP:  2 cups hottest tap water with 2 Tablespoons baking soda
Butter for brushing on afterwards

TO make 12 pretzels

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp kosher salt (plus extra for sprinkling)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1-1/2 cups warm water
DIP:  2 cups hottest tap water with 2 Tablespoons baking soda
Butter for brushing on afterwards

LONG winded with comments and loads of pictures instructions: 

Combine the flour, yeast, salt, brown sugar in a bowl and mix it around.  

*You WILL notice there's stuff in my bowl, I'd just finished a batch of my brioche(style) hamburger and couldn't find my second bowl and didn't feel like cleaning it.  I frequently do batch after batch of dough in a bowl and don't bother yanking out the old dough, it's all yeast dough and it's all fresh so it just goes into the next loaf.   

ANYway, mix the dry stuff around then add HALF the amount of water and mix it around with the dough hook and your hand till it's shaggy
Mix mix mix, then put it on the kitchen aid.
Mix mix mix.  Add the water, a little bit at a time until it's a cohesive and SOFT dough, it should be sticky and look a little batter like
Nope, needs more water.  AH, there you go, it took it all.  Don't fret if it looks too wet, a 4 minute knead on high on a kitchen aid will certainly bring it all together.
CRANK it to high speed and let it go about 4 minutes.  
It will clear the sides in a strip while it's still stuck a bit on the bottom, then it'll come completely loose and be smooth, that's when it's done.  Ok, look, it's unstuck but it's grainy, keep going another minute or so
THIS is what we're looking for.  Smooth and clearing the bowl and sticky unless your hand is floured. Perfect. Transfer it to a lightly floured board and flip it over a couple of times to bring it together and smooth it out, it's sticky, fret not.
Flip flip flip knead knead knead (just to feel involved) 
Hmmm, I've never noticed my wrinkly wrist?  Who has wrinkles on their wrist?  I'm not THAT rotund, am I?  I'll have to review taking pictures that include my left wrist apparently, sorry for the horror of it.  
Back to the dough.
Oh, look how smooth and lovely it becomes! See, if you hold it, it'll start to ooze, THAT is the texture we want.
Sprinkle a little oil on top and rub it in.  Hmmm, this is lovely dough.  See it's shiny and oozy and not sticking to me, perfect.
Pop it into a plastic vessel with hash marks so you can see when it triples. This is my home depot multi mix container with a lid.  I think this dough must be lidded, you can use Tupperware or whatever else you have.  You can also just toss it in a bowl with plastic wrap over it.  Leave it until it triples.
33 minutes later.  Remember, I make bread every day so stuff rises here at a ridiculous rate.  Bank on an hour for yours to triple.
Before you roll the dough, get a shallow dish and put about 2 cups of hottest tap water in it, add 2 Tablespoons of baking soda, mix it up (like the action shot?) and put it aside.
BACK to the dough.  Lightly flour a surface and tip the dough onto it.  Flip it over a few times to push out some of the air then divide it, the best you can, into 8 or 12, depending on which batch of dough you made.  I made 12 today.
Roll each piece into a log, about 10 inches long.  I do mine a loose width of my hands.  Split the rope down the middle leaving just the tip connected.
Fold the pieces over each other like a 2 piece braid, this works better then just twisting the dough.  HEY, again with the wrist wrinkles?  Why am I only now noticing this?  But, look at me digressing again.  I flip the two pieces over about 5 times, then squish the ends together.  Look at those lovelies all lined up.
Dip each one QUICKLY, just in and out in the baking soda water then put it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  DON'T SOAK the ropes, I just dropped it in to take a picture. Sprinkle each with salt, a little if you want a little, loads if you want a salt shock.  Use kosher or the sea salt, whatever floats your boat.
Don't they look sexy?  I put mine on two sheets, one lined and one not, for science.

Put them in a 475 degree preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes, depending on how hot your 475 is.  Turn around half way. 
While they bake, melt some butter in a blue dish.  :)  
When the pretzels come out of the oven brush them with the melted butter and sprinkle more salt if you'd like. 
Oh, these aren't burnt by any stretch, the paper always goes BLACK from the baking soda, don't fret, it's not burned and no off flavors transfer to the pretzels at all.
OH look at them brushed!!!
Just looking at these makes me happy.  Oh and look how they pull apart once they're cool.  OK, they're not cool all the way, could you resist?
I love pulling these apart.  The other batch came out, no paper, and did just fine so either way works
LOOK at them, oh I'm so happy, they're fabulous *delighted*

MY INTERNATIONAL TESTER gave them a solid 2 thumbs up, she loved them, ate one while we skyped said she'd recommend the recipe to a friend.  She'd never had a soft pretzel before but said she's a convert.  HAHA  I think they were a hit!  

This is the pic she sent.  She added sesame seeds.  Hmmm. I like that idea!  We also discussed options for dipping. Hot cheese sauce, mustard, sourcream with honey mustard, mayo/mustard or of course gravy (yeah, who doesn't love gravy)

*Just for fun, this is the batch of brioche style burger buns I made before the pretzels, whose remnants were still in the kitchen aid bowl ;)  I'll be posting this recipe next time around.

I hope you make the pretzels, I hope you love them!  let me know!! 



  1. They look great. Thanks for posting so many picture to explain the process. I love soft prezels and wanted to try to make them at home. So when I saw your post on LinkedIn I was excited to check it out. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Let me know how they are for you. I'm making another batch today, I'm addicted to them!