Homemade Soft Pretzels

The Joy of Homemade Pretzels

I grew up near Philadelphia, so soft pretzels are a lifelong love for me. It’s the first thing I buy when I land at the airport in Philly. Actually, it also happens to be the first thing I buy when I land in Frankfurt, as well. Yes, I know the decent pretzel vendors in the flughafen (avoid the stand near A26).

Last week, I happened to see Alton Brown retweet a fan photo of his pretzel recipe. That was all the encouragement I needed.

Here’s the part that Alton Brown doesn’t tell you: they’re an absolute blast for your Kitchen Assistant to make. We’ve already made three batches. In a week. That’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but they’re really just that good. I would be perfectly happy making and eating these every day.

They don’t take that long to make. You need an hour of patience for the dough to rise, but the active prep and cooking time is really only about 45 minutes altogether.

UTENSIL NOTE: Instead of a slotted spoon, I use a stainless steel skimmer for lifting the pretzels out of the water. It’s wider than a spoon and handles the pretzels better. I got mine at a kitchen supply store, but it looks similar to this one from OXO.

Pretzels!

Serves 8
Prep time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 2 hours
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Bread, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Website Food Network
These homemade soft pretzels are amazing, but I would expect nothing less from an Alton Brown recipe. The Assistant would like me to make them every day. We've already made them twice in one week!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 22oz all-purpose flour (about 4.5 cups)
  • 2oz unsalted butter (melted)
  • oil (for pan)
  • 10 cups water
  • .67 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
  • pretzel salt

Directions

Step 1
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
Step 2
Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.
Step 3
Increase to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
Step 4
Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
dough
Step 5
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil, or use silicone baking sheets. Set aside.
Step 6
In a large pot, bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil.
Step 7
Turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Your Kitchen Assistant may be very helpful with this step.
pretzel-ropes
Step 8
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.
pretzel-technique
Step 9
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds each. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.
boiling-pretzel
Step 10
Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. NOTE: the Assistant says "Really chunky salt makes it taste too salty and hides the taste of the pretzel. Medium or small chunks make the overall flavor better."
Step 11
Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 12-14 minutes total. In my oven, I rotate the sheets at 5 minutes, and then again for the final 2 minutes. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Results

Weekend-All“These are the best. THE BEST! I want to take them to school for lunch and eat them for snacks and… oh, they’re just awesome, but they’re best right from the oven. You know, next time we should make a double batch and half-cook some of them so we can freeze them and reheat them whenever we want one. Ohhh, that would be AMAZING!”

It’s possible that the pretzel genetics are strong with this one.

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