Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Cheers, darlin'.

In honor of Oktoberfest which (technically) kicked off last weekend, I decided to whip up a little something to go with a pint of pumpkin beer or two. I know, I know... enough with the pumpkin already. But guys, there's only one season to consume pumpkin everything so let me have my moment!!! If I could get away with it I would have pumpkin breakfast, pumpkin lunch, and pumpkin dinner from September to November. Trader Joe's knows what I'm talking about. Have you tried their pumpkin waffles, kid? To. Die. For. 

More to the point, October starts this week and pretzels sounded like the perfect way to celebrate my favorite Bavarian holiday. To be honest, I don't know of any other Bavarian holidays but who doesn't like a holiday centered around beer, pretzels, and sausages. Three of my favorite things, y'all. I'm on a savory kick guys. I can't help it. Sometimes your body just craves salt, am I right? This pretzel isn't too salty, has just the right amount of crunch on the outside and chewy tenderness within. You're going to love it. 

Smear some mustard on it. 
Or some spicy mustard if you're like me. 

I even got a little cray-cray and made a few with minced garlic and cheese sprinkled on top during the last couple minutes of baking. Whole new level of delish. That's not a word but I don't know how else to describe it. Delish pretzels. 

Now pour yourself a cold one (beer... or some apple cider because that would also be delicious) and start making yourself a delightfully in season afternoon snack. 

Homemade Soft Pretzel

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 heaping tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 tablespoons melted salted butter
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus up to 1/4 cup
  • spray vegetable oil (for prep/rise bowl)
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • coarse sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling
  • 2 cloves minced garlic and shredded cheddar (optional)

in the bowl of a stand-up mixer combine the warm water, sugar, salt, and melted butter and sprinkle the yeast on top. Make sure your yeast is spread evenly over the warm liquid to ensure the yeast blooms properly. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until the yeast begins to foam.

Using the dough hook attachment, mix in flour on very low speed until fully mixed into the liquid. If the dough is too wet or sticky, add one tablespoon of flour at a time. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth. At this stage it should pull away from the sides of the bowl and have a drier, less sticky texture.

Transfer the dough ball to a large mixing bowl that is well coated with oil. Cover bowl with a moist dish towel and let it rise in a warm place for an hour. Dough should almost double in size. Preheat oven to 425°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and stir in the baking soda. While waiting for water to boil, give the dough a good punch down and remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean, well-floured surface. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and then half each piece again, so you will have eight pieces. Eight soon to be pretzels. Place all mini dough chunks aside under your damp dish cloth.

Use one ball of dough and roll it out into about a two-foot rope, applying even pressure with your hands. I did this the lazy way and used my hands to stretch it into as even a roll as possible. Some lumps and bumps are okay. Making a U-shape with the dough, cross the right side over to the left, and left over to the right. Gently press the ends into the bottom of the U shape. Place the pretzel shape into the boiling water for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with a spoon, making sure all surfaces get covered in the boiling soda-water. Remove the slippery pretzel with a wide and return to the parchment-lined baking sheet to rest. Repeat for next eight pretzels. Four pretzels will fit on each sheet.  

Brush each pretzel with the egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt just before transferring them to the oven. This is where you would also sprinkle with minced garlic if you'd like to infuse another flavor. Place in the oven and bake for 15 – 17 minutes. I found 17 minutes to produce a browner, richer color. 

Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving or risk burning your tongue. I speak from experience here.