Soft Pretzels

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I have been madly in love with soft pretzels since I was a wee child. Blame my mother. 😉  She would buy us a pretzel at the Wal-Mart snack bar if we were good or if it was a special occasion. As an adult, I am hard-pressed to pass by the pretzel shop at the mall without buying something. The first salty bite of pillowy goodness is the best. A few years ago, I decided to try making them myself. Every batch has gotten consistently better. This time, I scaled down the recipe so as to limit the amount of temptation I would be subjecting myself to.

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Cast of characters: warm water, table salt, yeast, flour, baking soda, sugar, butter (divided use). Not pictured: kosher/sea salt.

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Take the water’s temperature. You want it to be between 100-110 degrees. Too hot and your yeast might die.

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Once everything’s copacetic, add your water, sugar and  table salt to the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with hook). Give it a little stir to dissolve, then sprinkle your yeast over the top of the water. Leave it alone for a few minutes to let the yeast get foamy. Add your flour and one tablespoon of melted butter, then turn your mixer on a medium speed to get the dough together.

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Once it’s mostly in one big ball in the bowl, go ahead and turn it off. Prep a bowl with a little cooking oil, then take your ball-o-dough and roll it in the oil. Leave the dough in the oily bowl, cover with some plastic wrap, then stash it in a warm place to rise.

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Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Once your dough has basically doubled in size, go ahead and get it ready to roll.

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Go ahead and get your poaching liquid together. Fill a large pot about halfway with water. Add your baking soda. Heat to boiling.

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While you’re waiting to boil, divide your dough up into roughly 2 oz. pieces. This recipe should give you about 8 or 9 reasonably-sized pretzels. Make each ball into a snake, then twist into the pretzel shape: Make a “u,” cross/link the arms, then press them down at the bottom of the “u.” Give the arms a good pinch to keep ‘em stuck down.

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8 more to go…

 

When they’re all twisted. lay them on a cookie sheet prepped with parchment that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

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2 at a time, drop them into the boiling poaching liquid. Let them boil for 30 seconds, then fish them out with a slotted spoon and return to the cookie sheet. After they’re all poached, brush them with your other tablespoon of melted butter and sprinkle with kosher/sea salt.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and smelling like magic. I leave mine more on the light brown side of golden if I’m not eating all of them at once, just so I have some wiggle room to reheat them.

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Soft Pretzel
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bread and Pastry
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1-½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ package yeast (about 1 heaping teaspoon)
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2-¼ cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted and divided)
  • 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Kosher/sea salt
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the water, sugar and salt, stir to mix and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for a few minutes or until the yeast begins to foam.
  2. Add the flour and 1 tablespoon melted butter and turn the mixer to low. Mix until everything is combined. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for about 5 minutes or until you have a smooth dough.
  3. Brush the bottom and sides of a large bowl with some vegetable oil and put the dough in the oiled bowl. Cover and let it rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 F. Cover 1 baking sheet with parchment paper and spray some nonstick spray on the parchment paper.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the baking soda. Bring to a rolling boil.
  6. Once the dough has risen, cut it into 2 oz pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into pretzel shape. Place your shaped pretzels onto the oiled parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  7. Carefully poach the pretzels 2 at a time in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from the boiling water and put them back on the lined baking sheets. Continue to cook all of them in the same manner. Then, brush them all with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle each one with a little coarse salt.
  8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

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