Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels


Soft pretzels are always made with yeast dough and are in fact very similar to bagels in both composition and construction.

Although there is such a thing as salt-less pretzels, called “baldies,” I would suggest that they’re really not pretzels at all, but rather cruel jokes perpetrated by bitter bakers.

If you don’t have pretzel salt, coarse sea salt will do.

HOMEMADE SOFT PRETZELS
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups warm water, 110-115 degrees F
  2. 1 tablespoon sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  4. 1 envelope active dry yeast
  5. 22 ounces all-purpose flour
  6. 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  7. Vegetable oil, for the bowl and pan
  8. 10 cups water
  9. 2/3 cup baking soda
  10. 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  11. Pretzel salt
Instructions
  1. Combine the 1 1/2 cups warm water, the sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.
  2. 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, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.
  5. Bring the 10 cups water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a 12-inch straight-sided saute pan or a roasting pan (something wide and shallow is best).
  6. Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly 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, and, 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 on a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  7. One by one, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return them to the sheet pans, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
  8. Bake until dark golden brown in color, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. If you don't have pretzel salt, coarse sea salt will do.
ALTON BROWN https://altonbrown.com/

120 Comments

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  1. 1
    Kevin

    Something I learned from a German pretzel baker: you CAN freeze par-baked pretzels. Don’t salt or egg them; bake for about half time time (5-6 minutes), then pull them and move them to the freezer still on the baking sheet (I have a chest freezer), or at least keep them flat. Freeze solid, then bag them up. When you’re ready, apply eggwash & salt, then bake for 12 minutes or so as instructed (you’re looking for the preztel brown color, as normal).

    The German pretzel baker only froze them for later use the same day; I’ve frozen batches for up to 2 months and they’re still great.

  2. 2
    Thomas Kottke

    @Laurie (Q: “Is it possible to do this without a stand mixer? Maybe with a food processor?”). Laurie it is totally possible to do this without a stand mixer – it just requires a little more physical effort. The stand mixer’s job is to combine the ingredients and then to knead the dough. The process of kneading creates the gluten fibers.

    I don’t own a stand mixer so I start by combining the ingredients as described into a bowl with a wooden spoon until that becomes too difficult. Then I switch to using my hands. Once the mixture has combined into a dough ball, I dump the ball onto my counter and start kneading by hand (stretching and folding the dough). This will take a little bit longer to get that “smooth” constancy. The dough is ready when you can stretch it but it does not tear. You might want to look on youtube for videos on kneading dough.

    From there continue as usual.

  3. 3
    haleysea

    These turned out wonderful! Had to add a little flour as the dough was mixing, and pull it off the hook a few times, but they turned out great! Will be saving this recipe and making again. Yum!

  4. 7
    Gary

    To Don:
    I bought one of those salt grinders that have large bits of salt in them, like a peppermill it. I’m keeping it on hand and I’ll just use what’s in it for my pretzels, without grinding.

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