Sunday, May 19, 2013

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

I love soft pretzels and these are fantastic.  I first made soft pretzels at home a few years ago, and have made them many times since then.  I've tried a couple of recipes and these are a combination of the best aspects of each of those recipes, plus the addition of whole wheat flour.   What's great about these pretzels (besides their taste!) is that while they are made with yeast, they don't have to rise much.   Start to finish these are done in under two hours.

Have you ever wondered what makes a soft pretzel taste like a soft pretzel?  The chewy texture comes from the fact that soft pretzels are boiled like bagels before being baked in the oven.  The pretzel taste comes from the fact that baking soda is mixed in with the boiling water.  Salt sprinkled on top helps too, though these are delicious even without the salt on top.

This dough has no fat in it.  The finished pretzels are brushed with a tad of butter which makes a huge difference to the overall eating experience.  I strongly recommend the butter finish!  If you've never considered making your own soft pretzels, give this recipe a try.  These are quick and delicious, and actually not any less healthy than a typical piece of bread.

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

yield: 12 pretzels

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups all purpose flour + additional for sprinkling
  • 1 3/4 - 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2/3 cup baking soda (yes, 2/3 CUP)
  • 10 cups water
  • coarse salt, for sprinkling (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted


1) Combine flours, 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water, salt, sugar, and yeast.  Mix and knead for 5 minutes, ideally in a stand mixer with a dough hook.  The dough should be slack and sticky.  If it is dry, add additional water.

2)  Sprinkle additional flour all over the dough to prevent it from sticking and place the dough in a bag.  Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

Soft Pretzels

3)  While the dough is resting, combine baking soda and water in a large pot.  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 450F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or baking mats.

4)  Once the dough is done resting, start to bring the baking soda and water to a boil.  Remove the dough and divide it into 12 equal portions (about 3 ounces each).  Roll each into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape.  Place shaped pretzels onto the lined baking sheets, 6 pretzels per sheet.  

5)  Once the baking soda water is boiling, add three pretzels and cook for one minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon and return to the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.  Repeat with remaining pretzels.  

Soft Pretzels
Upper pretzels are pre-boiling and lower pretzels are post-boiling.
6)  Once the oven has preheated, bake pretzels for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.   I bake one tray at a time, but do what works best for your oven.

Soft Pretzels
Before the butter finish!
7)  Remove pretzels from the oven and brush with melted butter.  Serve warm.  Store leftover pretzels in the freezer and defrost/toast when ready to serve.

(recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour and Annie's Eats) 

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