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Baking soft pretzels together

September 27, 2009

I love pretzels, soft or crunchy. Last year my husband and I went to New York City, and on my list of things to do, along with the Museum of Modern Art and Central Park was…get a pretzel from a street cart! Of course I did and I loved it. I haven’t made my own for many years, so when Michele from Veggie Num Nums had soft pretzels on her goals list, I asked her if I could bake along.

We decided to use Alton Brown’s recipe, which looked easy enough to handle, though we were not enthusiastic about boiling them before baking. However, since bagels are boiled to achieve a chewy crust, it seemed like a worthwhile thing to do in pursuit of a tasty pretzel.

The dough was easy to handle; not sticky at all. I rolled it out on two silicone mats, which I overlapped to equal about 24 inches. Check out my trusty pink ruler!

SoftPretzel1

Here they are on parchment, ready to boil. Be sure to pinch them tightly or they’ll come apart in the boiling water.

SoftPretzel2

Boil the pretzels one at a time for 30 seconds in a mixture of baking soda and water. They’re slippery when they come out of the water, so be careful that they don’t slide off the parchment and onto the floor! Also check your baking soda supply before starting; you need to put 2/3 cup in the water.

SoftPretzel3

I don’t have a photo of them ready to bake, but after boiling I brushed them with an egg wash and sprinkled with Kosher salt. Alton Brown recommends pretzel salt (which is opaque white salt), but I couldn’t find it at the store. Bake for 12-14 minutes and you have delicious pretzels. Be sure to keep an eye on them; mine browned pretty quickly.

SoftPretzel5

Mmmm. Delicious with some mustard. They have a chewy, tasty crust and are nice and soft inside.

SoftPretzel6

These were delicious warm from the oven. The next day, after putting them in a plastic bag, they formed condensation and got a little soggy. A quick crisp-up in the toaster oven worked well, but it wasn’t as good as the first day. Next time I will try freezing them as soon as they’re cooled and then warming in the oven straight from the freezer. If anyone has tips about keeping them from getting soggy, please let me know. Be sure to check out how Michele did with her pretzels!

Soft Pretzels

Recipe from Alton Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt

Directions

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. 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 and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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12 comments

  1. I made those last year with my kids and they were great! And I learned that boiling is essential to the success of the consistency. Otherwise, you just get…. bread. You did terrific for a first-timer – mine didn’t come out nearly as well!

    Hmmm, you’ve given me an idea of what to make today!!


  2. Thanks for baking with me Jill! Your pretzels look delicious and I appreciate that you took so many photos since I neglected to do so.


  3. Those pretzels looks super-yummy! Pretzels have been on my to-try list for ages. I think I need to do what Michele did and actually write down everything I want to bake, I lose track!


  4. Oh my….this is gonna be a goal on my list now! These look SO yummy!


  5. I have never made pretzels before, but these look delicious!!


  6. Until seeing this, I never would have thought of making pretzels, but you make them sound so delicious and easy….


  7. oh, I have been SO dying to make soft pretzels. This post inspired me even more!
    How did they keep? How do you store them and how long can you store them for? I wonder if they freeze well.


    • Hi Tia, I haven’t figured out the storage part yet. They were best fresh from the oven and then got soggy due to the salt. Next time I’m going to freeze them as soon as they’ve cooled and then try reheating them in the oven.


  8. Your pretzels look wonderful! I’ll have to try this recipe.


  9. Oh, my, these look good and fun! You did a great job.


  10. Freeze them after boiling and bake as needed adding your wash and salt just prior to baking.


    • Thanks for the tip! I will try it next time.



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