My love affair with soft pretzels goes back to when I was a child, and would go shopping with my mother at a Wal-Mart type store called Hills. At the front of the store they had a little snack shop that served hot dogs, Icee’s and of course, a revolving carousel of giant soft pretzels. If I was well-behaved, my mom would buy me a soft pretzel to eat on the way home. To this day, soft pretzels are my concession stand snack of choice. (As well as buttery popcorn, of course!)
These soft pretzels are super easy to make, although they do take some time to raise. They are perfect to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon. This time I stuck with plain, salted pretzels, but you can easily experiment with different toppings like cinnamon sugar, cheddar cheese, jalapeno, etc. The possibilities are endless!
Yields: 12 pretzels
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 package (or 2-1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups water
3 Tablespoons baking soda
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons coarse Kosher salt
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes to bloom. Add the water/yeast along with the melted butter, brown sugar, salt and 2 3/4 cups of the flour to your heavy-duty mixer and knead dough for about 8 minutes, adding the last 1/4 cup of flour if necessary (I never needed to add this). You can also do this by hand. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but very uniform and smooth. Place dough in a large oiled bowl, and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled.
Note: To ensure the dough is thoroughly kneaded, take a small piece and roll it into a ball. With your thumbs, stretch the dough until either it tears or becomes transparent in the center, also known as a window. If you cannot stretch the dough to form a window, knead a little longer.
Punch down, and divide the dough into 12 equal shapes and form them into small balls. (If you have a kitchen scale, each ball of dough should be right around 2 oz). Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for 15 minutes. Roll them into 20″ lengths and form them into pretzel shapes. If you notice them getting hard to roll (springing back), cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling out. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the pretzels to rise for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
In a large pot, bring the baking soda and water to a boil. Add the pretzels one at a time to the boiling water for 1 minute. Press down into the boiling water with a spatula. Remove and place on a cooling rack. When cooled, transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and bake for 12-15 minutes, until dark brown.
*Freezer Friendly Tip* – These pretzels freeze great! Freeze them in indivdual sandwich bags, then heat up in the microwave or oven for a quick snack.