Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baking Day With Friends Results in Fantastic Pretzels

A few weekends ago, my friends called me saying they would like to have a baking day. Of course, I was in. My friend John always had a knack for baked goods--in high school he would bake us each a cake for our birthdays. My favorite John Baking story was when he constructed a buckeye duck sculpture for his girlfriend out of peanutbutter and chocolate, only to discover the morning he was going to bring it to school that his grandfather had bitten the head off.

John's dog, Beckett, is always hopeful something will
fall onto the floor.
The baking day had some successes, and some disasters, but we definitely had fun. While I was busy making my first attempt at a tart (one of the successes!) John and my friend Emma were hard at work making soft pretzels.

Pretzels are not my favorite snack food by a long shot--I pick them out of my Chex Mix--and I only tolerate Auntie Annie's or Pretzel Time when I need quick sustenance at the mall between shopping binges. I fully expected to only kind of like these things--boy, how wrong I was!

Mmm...butter for dunking.

These pretzels are crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and so so good. Mall pretzels got nothin' on these beauties. We made 12 and they lasted all of one hour. Dunked in butter (we didn't have mustard worthy enough), they were the perfect snack after a long day of baking.

I tend to avoid baking bread products because I assume it always takes forever, but aside from needing an hour for the dough to rise, this was definitely not a time consuming project. And worth it. Definitely.

Home Made Soft Pretzels
(From the Somewhat Annoying Yet Obviously Genius Alton Brown Recipe)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water (or enough to fill a large pot)
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Kosher Salt

-Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (we used a food processor) and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment (or just the regular food processor blade), mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. 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.

-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

-Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

-In the meantime, 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. 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.

-Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. 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. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


  1. Delicious looking pretzels, I have yet to make pretzels at home, would be so fun!

  2. I've been wanting to make my own pretzels forever! These look wonderful!

  3. That buckeye duck story is hilarious. Glad the pretzels went better than that for you guys. They look so soft and delicious.

  4. I've always wanted to make homemade soft pretzels, but still haven't done it yet for some reason... I'm inspired now! These look great!

  5. I've always had these on my to-make list, but I haven't done them yet for some reason. I'm inspired now - these look great!

  6. Yummy pretzels! I have to give them a try. My husband loves them...

  7. I'm not really a huge fan of hard pretzels but homemade soft ones are a whole other story. Especially if you top them with cinnamon sugar...swoon.

    1. I was blown away by how delicious they tasted with just some butter! I'm now contemplating different varieties to try--Ima give that Auntie Annie lady a run for her money methinks...

  8. Yum! Sometimes I crave these things. It looks like they're much easier to make than I thought. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. oh my gosh, those pretzels look incredible! very impressive!