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homemade soft pretzels

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Happy Twenty Baker’s Dozen!! These pretzels are my first (food) post of 2013. And it’s a good one.
Sally – you’ve done it again. If you don’t follow Sally’s Baking Addiction, you’re doing yourself a disservice. She’s my blog crush. I want to eat nearly everything she posts and I love her photography.

The other day, on one of my many days off for the holiday, these pretzels popped up in my reader. Because they only require a handful of ingredients, I decided to get off the couch and make them. They were so simple. And so good. Even the Mr., who never wants to stop with me at the mall to get a soft pretzel, loved them. You probably have all the ingredients on hand, so you should make them, too. You’ll be happy you did.
Sally’s original version calls for whole wheat flour, which I did not have on hand, so I used all white flour. It makes for a softer (but slightly less healthy) pretzel. 
  

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Makes: Mine made 11 pretzels – it’ll depend on how large/small you roll them out

Ingredients
1 and 1/2 cups warm water 
1 packet active yeast (which is 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
4 – 4.5 cups all-purpose flour (or mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour)
1 large egg
coarse sea salt for sprinkling (mine was in a grinder that I couldn’t get open, so mine isn’t coarse)

Directions
Preheat your oven to 425F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. I used my Silpat (my new lover).

Dissolve yeast in warm water, stirring with a spoon until fairly mixed, about 1 minute. You don’t have to get all the chunks out.
Add salt and sugar; stir until fairly combined.  Slowly add flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is thick.  Continue to add more flour until dough is no longer sticky. If the dough bounces back when you poke it, it’s ready. 
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes and shape into a ball.  5 minutes is a long time when you’re kneading.  You can do it.
With a sharp knife, cut your dough ball into approximately 1/3 cup sections. I made 11 balls.  The more dough you use, the bigger your pretzel. The measurement is up to you. 
Take a dough ball and roll it into a rope with an even diameter.  (Tip: I found that using the palm of my hand worked best for the rolling. I started off using my fingers and they weren’t coming out as even.)  
Once you have your long rope, take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape.  At first that seemed confusing, but if you follow those steps, it works. Promise. (just in case – How to Fold  a Prezel Wiki)
In a small bowl, beat the egg and pour into a shallow bowl.  Dunk the shaped pretzel into the egg wash (both sides).  Place on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425F degrees. Turn the oven to broil for the last 5 minutes to brown the tops. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
I served them warm with a cream cheese “sauce” (put a couple tablespoons of cream cheese in a microwave safe dish & heat for approximately 20 seconds so it’s just melted. Give it a stir & it’s ready for dipping). 
Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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