I recall the first time I came across a soft pretzel stand in a mall when I was a kid. The aroma of the freshly baked snack was alluring, so I had to get one. Although I don’t have them often, I have tinkered around with a few recipes over the years. For this recipe, I adapted it from The Kitchn. This pretzel recipe makes 8 pretzels and tastes very similar to a hard pretzel. It has a harder exterior with a softer, chewy inside. Yum!
Ingredients for the Pretzels:
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Vegetable oil (enough to grease your bowl)
- 8 cups of water
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- Sea salt
- Butter, cinnamon and sugar, garlic powder, roasted sesame seeds (optional)
- Combine 1 cup of warm water and yeast into a medium sized bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes before stirring it to dissolve the yeast. Then, proceed to add the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir to form the dough.
- Knead the dough until it is soft and is able to hold the shape of a ball (roughly 5 minutes). Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook. If it’s too sticky, add a bit of flour at a time in between your mixing.
- In either a new bowl or the same bowl (remove the ball of dough first), grease it with some oil prior to putting the dough ball back in. Cover it with a cloth and allow the dough to rise (approximately 1 hour) double its original size.
- Once an hour has passed, put the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into eight equal piece.
- Roll each piece into long, skinny ropes (approximately 15 inches long) using the palm of your hands (if it shrinks, put it aside and work on another piece and go back to it later). Then, form the infamous pretzel shape (create a “u” shape first, close the top of the “u” by crossing the two ends together, twist, then place each end on the bottom of the pretzel. Press the ends lightly into the bottom of the “u” to prevent it from unravelling). Set it aside to rise again for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and place the rack in the middle.
- In a large tall pot, add 8 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add the baking soda and dark brown sugar. Be careful! The water will foam up, so it’s important to use a tall pot. Stir and then lower the temperature to medium-high. Add 2-3 pretzels into the water and cook for 30 seconds on each side prior to scooping it out (it helps to use a big slotted spoon) onto a baking sheet. This is supposed to help the pretzels puff up and be more doughy.
- Lightly sprinkle some sea salt onto the pretzels and bake them for about 12 minutes until they are a nice dark, golden brown. Transfer them onto a rack to let them cool a bit before adding toppings.
- Optional: Melt some butter in the microwave and either spoon it onto the pretzels or dip the pretzel into the butter. It will help adhere any toppings you may want to use or you can eat it on its own.
What happens when you don’t attach the ends of the pretzel to the bottom? It unravels, so I tried to make do by making it look like a heart. It was, after all, made with love. 🙂
***Note that there is a lot of inactive time involved in making pretzels (dough rising time), so you may want to make these well in advance. Although these pretzels are best eaten fresh and warm out of the oven, you can make them the day before. Just put them into a toaster oven to bake for about 8-10 minutes at 325°C. Only add the toppings prior to consuming so it doesn’t get soggy. Enjoy!