I was craving some really good bread… not bread really… but something soft and wonderful. I had walked past the pretzel place in the mall and all I could smell was the sweet dough they were quickly making for a line-up of people. It really can’t be any more difficult than making bread I figured. And so I was on a mission. Make my own soft pretzels.
It really isn’t that difficult, if you’ve ever made bread, this are simple. Okay… so twisting them can be a bit of a brain twister… but honestly… does it matter what they look like??? as long as they taste good? I think not either… though I did do my best to make these look nice.
Certainly you don’t have to use this dough recipe… you can actually use any bread dough recipe. It’s the boiling of them first in the soda bath that seems to make the difference.
These pretzels are best eaten when they are freshly made.
For the pretzels:
- 1 1/2 cups warm milk (it should be slightly hot to your finger)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 4 – 4 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 Cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Water:
- Large pot of water
- 1/3 Cup Baking Soda
To top pretzels
- Coarse Salt
- Melter Butter
Mix the warm milk, sugar and yeast together in a metal bowl, preferably your mixer. Give it a few minutes to make sure it bubbles. Attach the dough hook and mix on medium speed until it begins to come together. Mix on medium/high for 5 – 10 minutes to ‘knead’ the dough until it’s nice and pliable. Place the dough ball into a clean freshly greased bowl and cover to allow to rise, I often put on the back of my stove since I generally have the oven going, this means that back of the stove will be warm, cover with a clean dishtowel and let it rise about an hour, until it has doubled.
Once the dough has risen put a large pot of water on the stove to boil with 1/4 cup of baking soda and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Punch down the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope and form into the traditional pretzel shape.
Boil each of the pretzels in the soda water for about 30 – 45 seconds, making sure you carefully flip them. Lift them gently out of the water and place on greased baking pan. Brush them with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake them for 10 – 12 minutes and serve immediately.
You can leave off the salt and add any toppings you like. Sugar and cinnamon, caramel, chocolate or anything else that moves you. All you have to do is walk by one of the pretzel serving kiosks at the mall to gain some ideas.
The one thing I will say is that these need to be eaten almost immediately, they just don’t hold up well over time, especially if you salt them. Over night it seems that the salt soaks up the moisture from the pretzels and gets a bit soggy. But they are really… really good fresh… Enjoy!