Total Preparation Time – About 2 Hours
Time Spent Waiting – About 1 Hour
Cooking Time – 8 Minutes per Batch
In the quest for trying to do something different, we decided to tackle Soft Pretzels. Soft pretzels are fun and versatile. You can make straight, twisted, and traditional shaped pretzels. There’s not really a wrong way to shape a pretzel. In addition to the shape, you can hit them with a variety of toppings. You can even be creative with them, like making Witches Fingers. Hmm. I need to make a note about making fingers for Halloween. They can be a great snack for a Halloween Party. Look for the how to, later.
A soft pretzel is essentially a yeast bread. It has similarities to a bagel, in that it needs a hot water bath. I haven’t looked into what it takes to make a hard pretzel, but I imagine it’s a slightly different process. Otherwise, there is nothing particularly difficult about making a soft pretzel. So, here we go.
First, start your yeast. If you’ve been following my blog, I highly recommend activating your yeast, instead of just adding dry yeast to your ingredients. Activating yeast does a few things for you. It shows that your yeast is viable. It also gives the yeast a little head start on consuming sugar and multiplying. I typically use Fleischmann’s Dry Active Yeast, but any yeast will work. Follow the instructions on your yeast package.
Next, mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a Stand Mixer with a Dough Hook. I like to use a hand whisk to adequately mix the ingredients. I was always taught that salt and yeast don’t play well together when mixed together directly. So, if you add salt, and pour yeast over the salt, it can potentially cause issues. So, when working with yeast, make sure to mix the dry ingredients well.
After mixing your dry ingredients, add the oil, activated yeast, and warm water. Try to make sure your water is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but not over 110. I like to do this to keep the ingredients near an ideal temperature for the yeast. I’m not sure if it really helps, but it seems to make sense, logically. Using the dough hook, start the mixer on low, and once the ingredients are moistened, turn the mixer to medium. Let the mixer do its thing for 5 – 7 minutes. The dough should be firm and dense, but not overly dry. It should have a smooth appearance. If the dough is too wet or soft, try adding 1 – 2 tablespoons of flour and mix for another 3-4 minutes.
Once you have your dough, it’s time to let it raise. Lightly oil a large bowl. Take your dough, swish it around the bowl, to coat the outside of the dough with oil. Put the dough, oil side up in the bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm space. I like to warm my oven to about 90 – 100 degrees and put the bowl in the oven. Do not overheat. If you can’t touch the oven rack you’re your bare hand, it’s too hot. Again, with yeast doughs, I prefer to make sure that I create an environment to promote yeast growth. Let the dough raise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Toward the end of the hour, set your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover 2 baking sheets with Parchment Paper. Take a 4-quart cooking pot, fill with 4 – 6 cups of water. Add the baking soda and stir until dissolved. Heat the water to a boil, then turn the heat down until the water is no longer boiling.
Take your dough and put it on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. We tried to roll the dough into a cylinder about ½ inch thick. There’s a couple of ways to do this. One is to take the piece of dough and on the surface, using the palm of our hand, roll the dough back and forth, until it is the proper thickness. The other method is to take the dough and rolling it between both hands. If you’ve played with Play-do, it’s a similar process to making a snake. When you get the dough to the desired thickness. Form it into a pretzel shape. I tried to pinch the dough at the ends and at the cross, to help the pretzel maintain its shape.
At this point, you should have 12 pieces of dough formed in the shape of a pretzel. Now, it’s time for the magic. Take a pretzel and place it in the hot water. After 5 – 10 seconds, turn the pretzel over and let it sit for another 5 – 10 seconds. You may be asking why we are dipping the pretzels in hot baking soda water. Well, the water bath is what allows the pretzel to achieve a dark brown color. But, you have to be careful about the length of time that the pretzels sit in the water. If you leave the pretzel in the water too long, it can get a strong baking soda taste after baking, which isn’t really desirable.
Place the pretzels on a baking sheet about an inch apart. The pretzels will be slightly sticky, which is the perfect time to add toppings. We used three different toppings, Everything Seasoning, Sea Salt, and Cinnamon Sugar. Simply sprinkle the selected topping over the pretzel. I pressed the topping down into the pretzel, just to make sure it stayed in place. I don’t recommend putting all three toppings on the same pretzel.
Bake at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes. Place the pretzels on a cooling rack to let cool enough to eat. Enjoy your pretzels!
Hope you enjoyed this week’s project.
Soft Pretzel Recipe
Bowls (Small and Large)
Stand Mixer with Dough Hook
4 Quart Pot
Baking Pans with Parchment Paper
Stove and Oven
2 ¼ Teaspoons of Dry Active Yeast
¼ Cup of Warm Water (between 100 – 110 Degrees)
1 Tablespoon of Granulated Sugar
5 Cups of Flour
½ Cup of Granulated Sugar
1 ½ Teaspoons of Salt
1 ¼ Cups of warm water (between 100 – 110 Degrees)
1 Tablespoon of Oil (vegetable oil works)
4 – 6 Cups of Water
½ Cup of Baking Soda
Sea Salt or
Everything Seasoning or
Cinnamon and Sugar
- Activate Yeast, per package instructions
- Mix dry ingredients (Salt, Sugar, Flour) in Stand Mixer Bowl
- Mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients (Yeast, Water, Oil) with Dough Hook
- Let dough raise in oiled bowl for about 1hour, or until doubled in size
- Mix Baking Soda and Water in 4qt Pot and bring to a bowl. Reduce heat to stop boil
- Preheat Oven to 450 degrees
- Cover baking pans with parchment paper
- Cut dough into 12 equal parts and form into pretzel shapes
- Dip pretzel in hot baking soda water for about 5 – 10 seconds per side
- Place on pan about 1 inch apart
- Coat with topping of choice
- Bake for 8 minutes
- Place on cooling rack and let cool