I love soft pretzels. Even the frozen ones that you heat up in the microwave. Obviously the ones I make from scratch are significantly better, I’ll be honest, they take quite a bit of time to make. It’s definitely worth the effort, I promise. But plan to dedicate a couple of hours to the task.
My soft pretzels have become quite famous (if I do say so myself) among my friends and family, and are often requested for birthdays and special occasions. Although I’ve modified my recipe lately, the process for making my soft pretzels is actually about a decade old. I remember spending rainy Saturday nights as a teenager at home making pretzels late into the evening. I didn’t have much of a social life as an awkward high schoolers, which left me plenty of time to bake.
Shout out to Alton Brown, as his recipe inspired mine.
1 1/2 c water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package rapid rise yeast
3 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 c wheat flour
4 Tbsp butter
1. Heat water to at least 110 degrees fahrenheit, but no more than 115 degrees. The temperature is important, so if you don’t have a thermometer I highly recommend investing in one. I actually found the one I’m using at a dollar tree store, so no need to break the bank.
2. Add sugar, salt, and yeast to the water. Stir and seaside until foamy.
3. Combine flour, yeast mixture, and melter butter in a bowl, and mix on medium with a dough hook for about 5 minutes. You may need to knead the dough for another minute or so by hand in order to make sure everything is well combined.
4. Coat the bottom of a bowl with vegetable oil, then place the dough into the bowl, and rotate a few times so the outside is coated with oil. Cover with saran wrap, then let rise in a warm place for about an hour. If you live in a colder climate like I do (yay for San Francisco), then you may want to use your oven to let the dough rise. I’ll let the oven heat to 170 or so, then turn it off, and open the door for about 20 seconds before putting my dough inside.
5. Remove the dough after it has doubled in size. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (every baker’s best friend), and brush lightly with oil. Turn your dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and divide into 4 equal sections. Cover 3 with your left over saran wrap while your work the remaining section. It’s important to keep the dough covered while you roll out the pretzels to prevent the crust from beginning to form.
6. Divide each fourth of dough in half, and roll each piece out into a rope around 20 inches long. Make a U shake, then cross over mid way, twist, then tuck the edges under the original U of your shape. Click here for a visual example, though note, I usually don’t roll my ropes out quite as thin as the person does in the video.
7. Once you’ve finished forming all 8 pretzels, let them sit (uncovered) at room temperature for 20 minutes, then again in a refrigerator for another 20. While the dough is rising again, preheat oven to 440 degrees, and fill a large pot with water and begin heating.
8. Once the water is boiling, add between 1/4 and 1/3 of a cup of baking soda and mix. Place the pretzels gently into the boiling water one at a time. Let each one cook in the water for 30 seconds, then remove with a flat utensil. Return the pretzels to the parchment paper lined banking sheets.
9. Before baking, brush each pretzel with an egg wash (egg yolk only, combined with a splash of water) and sprinkle with sea salt.
10. Bake for around 13 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let cool on your sheet pans for a minute or two, before transferring to a cooling rack.