I know a lot of you have been waiting for the recipe to my soft pretzels. Well, after a request from a friend to make them for her, I decided to oblige.
I never realized how much I love soft pretzels until I made them for the first time. Then Paul gobbled them all up (he loves soft pretzels almost too much). This recipe is wonderful because it can be made in different ways depending on how you are feeling. The original recipe, which I got from the wonderful Annie of Annie’s Eats (http://www.annies-eats.com/), makes 8 large pretzels. This recipe, and these pictures, are from making 16 smaller pretzels. However, you can also make these into pretzel bites, for bite-size fun.
The recipe is quite simple. It is the time that the pretzels take that is the kicker. They take time to rise, and then a LOT of time to roll and shape. The result is worth it. The only change I make is that I use coarse sea salt instead of kosher salt. Not only is kosher salt slightly more expensive, both Paul and I love a good, salty pretzel. We have found that with sea salt, you get a perfect, soft, salty bite. These beauties are amazing with a cheese sauce (for Paul), or a jalapeno ranch (for me). Whatever you dip them in, go make these now! You won’t regret it!
Yields: 8 large pretzels, 16 small pretzels, or approx. 2 dozen pretzel bites
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Kosher or sea salt
To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast. Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with cooking spray, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in size. (I like to preheat my oven to about 200°F, turn the oven off, leave the door open for about 10 seconds to release most of the heat, and then let the dough rise in the warm oven.)
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot.
As you wait for the water to boil, form the pretzels. (Annie’s Eats has a beautiful step-by-step photograph guide of how to shape the pretzels.) Split the dough into 8 or 16 equal parts (depending on the size of the pretzels you want). Roll the dough into a long, thin rope. Make a U shape with the dough, and cross the ends over each other and on to the bottom of the U shape to form a pretzel. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet, and repeat with remaining dough pieces.
In small batches (of no more than 1 or 2 depending on pretzel size), place pretzels in boiling water. Boil pretzels for 30-40 seconds. Remove from water with a slotted spoon, and place back on baking sheets. Once the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 12-14 minutes, depending on size. Transfer to a cooling rack for about 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm with your favourite dip!