Soft Pretzels. Fresh out of the oven. Holy shit YES.
That deep golden brown color, that slight crispy exterior with flaky sea salt sprinkled on top. That soft, chewy interior…I’ll say it again. Holy shit YES.
Listen, I’ll be honest with you, I’m never really thinking, “Hmm, what should I make today? Soft pretzels.” I’m more like, what can I make today that’ll be in my mouth in 45 seconds? Cause I’m a hungry kid-adult who needs to be fed now.
So I’ve only ever made soft pretzels a few times in my life. But every time I come back to them, I realize how amazing they are and how stupid I am for not making them more often. Stupid…it’s a feeling I feel often.
But I know, oh I know, who the hell wants to make a yeasted dough? I like quick, simple recipes, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes you just can’t get around it. You gotta put in the time and energy if you want something like soft pretzels, bread, cinnamon rolls, etc.
But once you see the results, most importantly, once you taste the results – worth it. And then once you’re on your second pretzel and you taste it again, it’s really worth it.
Forewarning though – you have to pre-boil these pretzels in a baking soda bath for about 30 seconds before baking, using 2/3 cup baking soda. Why the hell do you have to give your pretzels a bath, in baking soda of all things? Well long story short…
Baking soda is an alkaline ingredient. The alkaline solution the pretzels are soaked in is what gives these pretzels they’re beautiful, dark, brown color and slight crisp exterior, without compromising the texture on the inside when baked.
An extra step, yes, but like I keep saying, it’s worth it when you have a homemade soft pretzel shoved inside your mouth.
And you can play around with these bad boys too. Top them with whatever you want. Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, pepper, herbs, you can sprinkle some cheese on them the last few seconds of baking. I decided to keep it simple and top mine with some flaky sea salt.
Then I ate the pretzels with some chive dip. Then I ate the chive dip with a spoon and that was good too.
And to make life a little easier, here are some photos of the shaping process. Not super complicated, but photos may be helpful. Trying to explain things with words…nah.
Hope you enjoy my friends! Let me know how your soft pretzel adventure goes.
“I am Beyonce, always.” – Michael Scott
Soft PretzelsPrint Recipe
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cups baking soda
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water, whisked together (for egg wash)
- Coarse salt, for sprinkling
Combine the water, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam.
Add the flour and butter. Use the dough hook attachment to mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with the vegetable oil; set aside.
Combine the water and baking soda in a large, wide pot. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. See photos above for this next part. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other. Then twist the two pieces so the left piece of "rope" goes on the right side and the right piece of "rope" goes on the left. Grab the "O" part of the dough using both hands. Lift and fold on top of the two "rope" pieces and gently press together. Then flip the whole pretzel over so the two "rope" pieces are now at the bottom of the pretzel. (The photos above are probably going to be more helpful then me trying to explain everything.) Place onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 2 or 3 at a time or however many will fit comfortably given the size of your pot – don’t crowd them), for 15 seconds and then flip and boil for another 15 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large, flat spatula. Place the boiled pretzels back on the baking sheet, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.