The other day the First Reader had mentioned pretzels. And he wasn’t talking about the hard ones I buy in bulk for kid snacks. I knew what he meant… the warm, soft, delicious things that most people associate with overpriced mall vendors of dubious origin.
I’ve made soft pretzels before, and they aren’t difficult to shape. But they hadn’t quite tasted right. It wasn’t an egg wash – I’d tried that. So I went hunting online, and as soon as I read this recipe, I knew what I’d been missing.
The trick is a bath for the dough, soaking it in baking soda and water, before cooking the pretzels. The result is the salty-bitter flavor we associate with pretzels, rather than just breadsticks. Also, it gives the lovely finished color of these which makes them not just tasty, but beautiful food. If you follow the link, you’ll see that the writer experimented with combinations of soaking/drying to see if that made a difference, and it did. I didn’t experiment, much. But you know me, I can rarely leave a recipe alone.
I made some small adjustments to the dough. As the recipe is written, it was very dry. Also, I was out of butter, so I skipped that part. I’ll try it another time, but frankly these don’t need it.
- 5 c all purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 1/4 cups warm (not hot)water
- 4 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1/4 cup oil
- 2 c water
- 4 tbsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 475 deg F.
- In a stand mixer bowl combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Mix a little, then let it stand for about ten minutes until the yeast is fully active.
- Using the dough hook, slowly add the flour, oil, and salt. Continue mixing and kneading for six to seven minutes. Dough should be firm, but not hard to the touch.
- Remove dough from the bowl to a lightly floured board for resting. While it is resting, bring the separate 2 cups of water to a boil. Add in the baking soda - it will get fizzy! - and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool to merely warm.
- Cut the dough into 16 roughly equal portions. Or make it 32 if you want snack-sized. roll each piece into a long rope. Shape into a pretzel.
- Put the baking soda water into a shallow baking dish. Soak each pretzel for two minutes, spooning water over them to fully wet them. Remove to a pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner and allow to rest for 9-10 minutes.
- Sprinkle sea salt onto the wet pretzels.
- Bake for 8-9 minutes.
How did they come out? Well, I was raving on facebook about them. The kids scarfed down their share. The First Reader got that look on his face – oh, how I love when I get that look! – and put some aside for lunch, then had two with polish sausage for dinner.
I’ll make them again, soon, and probably often.
4 thoughts on “Hot Soft Pretzels”
What oil did you use?
The recipe looks straightforward, and from the photos they look delicious.
Philly and soft pretzels.
And not the brown paper bag of soft pretzels that the corner street vendor has been holding under his armpit. (extra salt, anyone?)
And not the “overpriced mall vendors of dubious origin” either.
The Philly soft pretzel has long been a staple of this area.
Although somewhat dated, this 2009 article covers the essentials.
And this 1988 article gives a good history of the pretzel, but the marketplace is very different today.
I may have to try this and surprise the Hot Chick.
The oil was just canola oil. I added it because I didn’t like the way the dough was acting initially – one of those gut moments that makes baking as much an art as it is science – along with a touch more water. The original recipe was just too dry.
Thanks for the articles! This recipe was simple enough I know I’ll be doing it again.
Interesting about just soaking them. Usually I follow Alton Brown’s recipe (well, with tweaks) and boil them in the alkaline solution. Normally it’s baking soda, but I’ll have to try and get my hands on lye one of these days.
I’ll have to look up his version. I vaguely remember it but it’s been a while!
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