Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
Soft pretzels, perfect snacks on game day.
My husband loves soft pretzels. When I started baking, it was the first thing he requested I make. And if there aren't soft pretzels currently in my house, he asks for them. Repeatedly. So much so that I end up having to make pretzels at least once a month (if my husband had his way, it would be weekly.)

Let's just say I've got this pretzel making thing down...

First you've got the dough. Like most yeast bread recipes, you bloom the yeast, add the flour, etc and let the dough rise. Then it's you shape, boil (kind of like bagels, only pretzels go in a baking soda bath) then bake. It's actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it. When I started, I religiously followed Alton Brown's Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe I got online. As I've continued making them, I've made a couple of changes.

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Recipe adapted from Alton's Brown's Homade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tblsp honey
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tblsp active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water
sea salt or pretzel salt

Combine the water, honey and kosher salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
Water, honey, salt and yeast sprinkled on top.
Same bowl, 5 minutes later
Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth, and just a bit tacky to the touch.  Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Dough in oiled bowl
Same dough, 1 hour later
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside. If you have silpats, use them. You don't need to oil them.
Next, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.
Notice that mine aren't perfectly equal, as long as you're close, you'll be fine.
Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
I roll out from the center.
Voila - pretzel shape.
Newly rolled pretzels
Leave the pretzels to rest on the sheets while you bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

As you can see, they get a little puffy while waiting for the water to boil

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula (I like two slotted spoons) and return to the pans.
The boiling makes them puff even more.
Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg and water mixture and sprinkle with the sea/pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at a few minutes before eating, although it will be tough to wait.

The finished product - trust me, they smell divine.


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