Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Prepare Yourself for Some Serious Deliciousness
Tomorrow is my 31st birthday.  Yikes.  Truthfully, though, my 30th year on this planet has been pretty fantastic, so if 31 is just 30 plus one, I think I can handle that.  It's just one more candle on the cake and 365 days to live, love, and learn as much about life as possible.  Totally doable. Totally awesome. Bring it on!

With the impending anniversary of my birth on my mind, I thought today might be a fitting day to try a recipe I've had on my "to bake" list for years: soft pretzels.  Soft pretzels are easily on the list of my top 15  favorite foods, maybe even top 10.  There's just something completely irresistible about their chewy, yeast center and their crispy, salty exterior.  I found the recipe on Shutterbean and learned that making soft pretzels was on the list of the author, Tracy's, "31 comes before 32" list (31 things to do before turning 32).  How awesome is that?!

Soft pretzels remained unchecked on my "to bake" list for so many years because I was intimidated by their perceived complexity (boiling dough... whaaaaaat?!).  Truthfully though, these are silly stupid easy. And the results are a-ma-zing!  There are so many awesome options for toppings-- I made three plain with sea salt, three with cinnamon sugar, and two with (get ready for this) sharp cheddar cheese, roasted garlic salt, and crushed red pepper. YUM.  My only challenge now will be to not consume all eight of them today.  
Baked Pretzels Just Removed from Oven

Soft Pretzels and Birthday Flowers!


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)  
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  •  2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • vegetable oil/spray (for bowl and pan)
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water 

  • Cinnamon Sugar: granulated sugar and ground cinnamon (find the ratio you like)
  • Salt: Coarse sea salt
  • Cheese: Grated sharp cheddar cheese, roasted garlic salt, crushed red pepper 

  1. Combine warm water, sugar, and salt in a measuring cup.  Sprinkle yeast on top and allow mixture to sit until it becomes a bit foamy (approximately 5 minutes).
  2. While yeast mixture is sitting, put flour into the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment and melt butter. 
  3. Pour the yeast mixture and melted butter into the mixing bowl with flour.  Mix on low speed until well combined. Move speed up to medium and knead until dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 5 minutes).
  4. Remove dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, and lightly brush (or spray) with vegetable oil.  Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow covered bowl to sit until dough has doubled in size (about one hour).
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
  6. Boil 10 cups of water and baking soda in an 8 quart sauce pan.  
  7. Line extra large baking sheet (or two standard size baking sheets) with parchment paper.  Lightly brush (or spray) parchment paper with olive oil.
  8. Turn dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into eight equal pieces.
  9. 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" to create a pretzel shape. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  10. Gently place pretzels in the water one by one for 30 seconds. Remove using a large flat spatula. 
  11. Return pretzels to the baking sheet, brush with egg yolk/water mixture and then sprinkle with desired toppings. 
  12. Bake until dark golden (about 12-14 minutes)
  13. Transfer to cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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