Oh my gosh, I’ve had a terrible week. I don’t know whether I’ve slipped a disc or whatever, but I’ve been channelling Rachel from that episode of Friends where Ross has to help her do her makeup. World’s worst back 2k16.
And baking does not make it better at all. The things I go through for this blog, eh?
Although, these soft pretzels are waaaay easier to make than you would even think possible. Yes, there is yeast and bread flour, and waiting around for things to rise. And, at some point you are going to be soaking the pretzel dough in bicarb and boiling water. But, genuinely, these guys are surprisingly simple to throw together.
Not in any way good for you AT ALL though. You won’t be able to look at a pretzel in the same way again. You are literally going to be pouring melted butter on these doughy treats at one point. And obviously, a heck of a lot of salt. Pretty much a heart attack waiting to happen. Enjoy responsibly kids.
Going into this bake, I was pretty sure I knew what a pretzel looked like. But when it actually came to shaping them, I definitely needed some help from trusty google. So, I’ve got you covered:
The only way these can go ‘wrong’ really is if you don’t roll out the dough thin enough. The pretzels will puff up in the oven, so make sure you have enough space in the middle so that they will still have the classic pretzel look once they’ve come out of the oven.
I didn’t follow this advice when making batch #1, and they turned out more like pretzel flavoured bread rolls than the gorgeous little guys you see on my blog today. They still tasted awesome though, of course!
Just take a look at all that salt! I used salt flakes for these, as I had some lying around, but if you only have table salt then it will still work too. You just won’t get the classic salty look that you see above. You can even coat the pretzels in a cinnamon and sugar mix before baking instead of the salt if you want something a little sweeter. Just don’t coat them in melted butter once they’re out of the oven.
As I said before, if you are a first-time soft pretzel baker then you are going to find the bicarbonate of soda step a little bit weird. But please don’t skip it – or your lovely pretzels won’t turn that beautiful golden brown. I’m no scientist, so I’m not even going to try and explain why, but it works. Trust me.
This recipe doubles or triples well, so don’t let me stop you baking up a storm. But with just me and Katie around the house, four of them are plenty. Plus, I made cookies too.
- 2½ teaspoons active dried yeast
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar (US granulated sugar)
- 180ml (¾ cups) warm water
- 250g (2 cups) strong white bread flour
- 15g (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ tablespoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ½ tablespoon coarse salt or salt flakes
- 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat your oven to 240°C / 475°F (220°C fan) and line a baking sheet with grease proof paper or baking parchment.
- Place the yeast and sugar in a small bowl, add the warm water, and give it a stir. It is important that the water is warm (not cold and not hot) so that the yeast can activate properly. The sugar gives it something to eat whilst doing so! Leave the yeast alone for 15 minutes, after which time there should be a nice bit of foam on the top.
- Place the flour, 15g melted butter, and ½ teaspoon of salt into a large bowl, and pour in the yeast mixture. Give it a good stir with a wooden spoon until it all comes together into a dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 or 10 minutes, until nice and elastic. Place the dough back into the large bowl, cover with a tea-towel, and place somewhere warm to rise slightly for 20 minutes.
- Once the 20 minutes are up, knead the dough slightly and then cut into four equally sized portions. Roll each portion into a thin rope. You will need the rope to be long enough to be able to form the pretzel shape - probably about 50cm or 20 inches. See my picture in the post above for a guide on how to shape the pretzels into the classic shape.
- When the pretzels have all been shaped, you are going to need to prepare the bicarbonate of soda bath. Boil the kettle, and pour about 3 cups of boiling water into a baking dish. Mix in the bicarbonate of soda and stir until dissolved. Gently place the pretzels into the water, and leave for 2 minutes to soak. If the pretzels aren't fully coated in the water, then spoon it over the top until the whole pretzel is wet. Once soaked, remove the pretzels from the water with a spatula, and place on the lined baking sheet. You may need to slightly re-shape them - be careful not to burn yourself. Sprinkle the pretzels with the coarse salt, and pop in the oven for 8-10 minutes until a nice golden brown colour.
- As soon as the pretzels are out of the oven, brush them generously with the 45g of melted butter. This will seem like a lot of butter, but this is the secret to making your pretzels taste just like they came from one of those New York food carts. Enjoy whilst still warm for the ultimate soft pretzel experience!
- These pretzels are best enjoyed straight from the oven, but can be kept for 1 or 2 days. Make sure to keep them in an air-tight container.