Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzels are without a doubt one of my favorite snacks.  It's hard to walk around in the mall and not get tempted to enjoy one!  Even walking around the streets of New York City, it's hard not to stop at any of the many food carts selling hot dogs and soft hot pretzels (I loveeeee these food carts, btw).  My parents would only let me and my sister have soft pretzels on occasion, and whenever we went to see all the Christmas window displays in New York City, we'd always get hot soft pretzels and bags of roasted peanuts.  I still do this every year.

Whenever my cousins come over to visit from Colombia, which is fairly often, one of their most frequently requested snacks is to get sweet soft pretzels from the mall.  I always oblige, since I think this is one of the greatest snacks ever, obviously.  Ahhh, mall pretzels.  If only I could make them myself…

Oh but wait…they can be made at home in a matter of two hours.  Duh.

Seriously, these pretzels can be made in about two hours, and boy are they delicious.  I was so surprised when these pretzels came out as good as they did, they were perfect!  Super simple too.  Let yeast become foamy, add flour, add butter, let rise, shape dough, boil, egg wash, bake, add toppings.  Done.  Super simple. Super fun too.  I made these pretzels with my sister, and they came out awesome. I think I may never buy a pretzel from the mall again.  

Soft Pretzels
recipe from Alton Brown, modified only for toppings.


For the Pretzels
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110-115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg beaten with one tablespoon water

For the Pretzel Toppings
  • pretzel salt (sea salt works fine)
  • melted butter
  • cinnamon sugar
  • coarsely chopped or crushed almonds


In the bowl of a standard electric mixed, combine the water, sugar, and salt.  Sprinkle the yeast on top, and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture begins to become foamy.  

Add the flour and melted butter, and with the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well mixed.  Increase the mixer speed, and knead the dough until it is smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, about 6-7 minutes.  Remove the dough from the bowl, and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, approximately one hour.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 450 degrees F.  Line 2 half-sheet pans with either parchment paper or silicone liners, and set aside.

In a large pot, bring to a boil 10 cups of water along with the baking soda.

While the water comes to a boil, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and divide the dough into eight pieces (I used a scale and divided it into 8-4.5 oz pieces).  Roll each piece of dough into a long rope, about 24-inches in length.  Make a U-shape with the rope, and holding the ends of the rope, twist them over each other and press them on the bottom of the U-shape to create the classic pretzel shape.  Place all the formed pretzels on the prepared baking sheets.

Add the pretzels to the boiling water, one at a time.  Boil each pretzel for about 30 seconds before removing from the boiling water and placing on the baking sheets.  Brush the top of each boiled pretzel with the egg yolk and water mixture.  Sprinkle the pretzels with sea salt or the crushed almonds, if using.  If cinnamon sugar pretzels are desired, simply brush with the egg wash.  Bake the pretzels until they are a dark golden brown color, about 12-14 minutes.  Transfer the pretzels to a cooling rack and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.  

To make cinnamon sugar pretzels, brush the baked pretzels with a little bit of melted butter, and then proceed to coat in cinnamon-sugar.


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