If you know me, or have been following me on instagram for a while, you more than likely know that I loooove soft pretzels. I was born in Germany, grew up outside of Philly, and live in Lancaster. Between the 3 places, I know a good pretzel…and I’m obsessed.
I once tried to make homemade soft pretzels when I was in high school or college and it didn’t go well. I hadn’t made them since. But a few weeks ago I decided we needed to make something other than cookies and brownies. As per usual, I Frankensteined a few recipes together and I am quite happy!
1 pack Active Dry Yeast
1 cup warm water
About 1/4 brown sugar- light or dark
1/4 cup melted butter
3-3 1/2 cups flour- I added 3c, assessed texture, and reserved the rest for rolling out the dough.
Water & about 1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 stick melted butter
Optional toppings: garlic butter, salt, cinnamon/sugar, cheese
In a bowl, combine the warm water, brown sugar, and yeast. Allow to sit at least 5min for the yeast to activate. It will smell nice and yeast-y, and look a bit foamy when it’s ready.
Use the bread hook attachment on your mixer. Add 1 cup of flour, and then the melted butter. Continue to slowly add in the flour up to all 3 cups. At that time, assess how wet and sticky the dough is. You do want a little stick, but not a gloopy mess. Mix the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes. You need to build up the gluten. The dough should be stretchy and a bit sticky.
Place the dough in a greased bowl to double. It took mine about 20-30min both times. I place it on top of the stove with a towel covering it while I preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Once your dough has doubled in size, start a pot of water on the stove and add the 1/2 cup baking soda. You will want to have at least 3 inches of water in the pot. Yes, 3 inches of water, not a measurement. Stick with me here. Bring it to a boil.
Remove the dough from the bowl. Begin to pull pieces and shape. Remember, between the bath and baking, the dough will about double in size. I forgot that aspect the first batch I did and end up with GIANT twists. For my second batch, I did all pretzel balls. They made it easy for Athena to eat 1 as a snack. After shaping your dough, place them in the baking soda water for about 1 minute. Make sure they get a good dip. They will float and already start to get bigger. Remove and place on a baking sheet.
I melted additional butter and swept the tops before placing in the oven. I start at 15min and check. If they aren’t dark enough I continue to bake until I’m happy with the color.
After removing from the oven I do another butter dip (everything is better with BUTTER), to help toppings stick. My personal favorite is *upgraded* cinnamon sugar. I do a mix of 50/50 brown sugar/granulated sugar, a ton of cinnamon, and usually a little dash of clove and ginger. I measure nothing. I’m sorry guys. Immediately after their second butter bath, I dip the pretzels in the cinnamon sugars mix, or sprinkle with salt. I like to do my batch of pretzels half salt, half cinnamon sugar. That way you get the salty AND the sweet.
Store in an air-tight container. I find that they are best eaten immediately. You can warm them in a toaster or oven, but nothing beats hot and fresh.