Homemade Soft Pretzels

I have met one person in my life who doesn’t love, or at least like, pretzels. While she has exquisite taste in friends (ahem, she loves me) I can’t understand her taste in food (she also hates ice cream.)  But for the rest of us, luckily fresh, delicious, chewy, warm homemade pretzels are a super easy treat.  Don’t be intimidated into thinking they take too long or are too hard to master – they are easy and take about 2 hours, half of which is rising time – time to play a board game, binge watch Grace and Frankie, or take your small children for a run in the park.  You can top these with coarse salt, cinnamon sugar, garlic salt, or whatever spice and flavor combo you are craving.  Making these is  a fun activity for children, too.  

  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs kosher salt
  • 1 package dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
  • Approx 4 ½ cups flour (as needed)
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, melted (you can substitute oil for this)
  • Oil for greasing the pan
  • 10 cups water
  • ⅔ cup baking soda
  • 6-8 tbs unsalted butter, melted for topping
  • Pretzel salt, cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, garlic salt, etc for topping

Mix warm water, yeast, sugar, salt, and ½ cup flour in the bowl of a mixer.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes (it should get bubbly as the yeast activates.) Add 3 cups of flour and the small amount of melted butter and mix with the dough hook.  (You can do this by hand, using a large bowl and a sturdy spoon if you don’t have a mixer.) Add more flour as needed to create a smooth, elastic, not sticky dough.  Don’t add too much, you don’t want this to be a very dry dough. Knead with the dough hook (or by hand) until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth ball.  Remove the dough from the bowl, wipe the bowl if necessary, grease the bowl, and put the dough back into it. Cover it with plastic wrap and set aside in a warmish place to rise, 50-55 minutes.  (At sea level it will take that long to double in size. At our altitude the dough will double in size much faster, punch down and allow to double again.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line sheet pans with parchment and brush lightly with oil.  In a large flat pot or pan bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil.  Divide dough into 12 even parts. Roll each part into a long, thin snake then twist into a pretzel shape.  One by one put the pretzels into the boiling water then remove with a spatula or flat slotted spoon. Place them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving room for them to expand.  Bake until brown, about 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven. While still hot, brush the pretzels with the melted butter then sprinkle with whatever you wish to top. Cool slightly and eat!

 

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