Thursday, June 10, 2010

Soft Pretzels

I love pretzels.  So much.  They can satisfy nearly any food craving, easily covering carb and salt frenzies.  And if you want something sweet you can dip them in chocolate. Chocolate!  What more could you want?

But earlier this week my stomach did not want.  It did not want anything at all, in fact.  I thought that maybe it was on overload, from all the baking, and also stress from the ridiculous semester I'm attempting.  Now I'm thinking it was just bored, because yesterday I bought myself an early birthday present (it will be featured in many posts to come, don't worry), one so exciting it seems to have jolted my poor tummy back to normal. So today was a good day, because today I wanted pretzels.

Although they look complicated-- what with all the twisting, and the kneading, and the yeasting-- pretzels are quite simple and basic to make.  I love all the downtime, as it allows lots of time to do homework (and also absolutely nothing productive!).  But a word of caution: do not spend all morning before you bake meticulously scrubbing your kitchen, because boiling the pretzels in the baking soda water will fuck that shit up.  

Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe
from Alton Brown (god I love him)

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil, for pan

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer 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, 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. Would have been a great recipe and great post if it weren't for your language. Where are you manners, young lady!

  2. I'm gonna have to say that it's a good recipe regardless of whether or not you can handle reading swear words.

  3. I live in philly and have been meaning to make my own soft pretzels for quite some time! I am going to make these soon! Thanks for the post!

  4. You made it sound easy but I know when I make it I am bound to get in trouble with couple of batches, like my french bread. But the picture looks so good I will try atleast before quitting.

  5. Congrats on Top 9. this looks amazing! and also delicious and simple!

  6. Lexie: LOL.

    Anonymous: I agree. I don't want poor Alton Brown's magnificent pretzel recipe to suffer because of my vulgarity.

    Jen: Yay! They're so good.

    Sensiblecooking: At very least, if they don't turn out, they're really fun to attempt. Good luck!

    Patrick: Thanks!

    Lauren: Yes, you do! And I need to make more, because these pretzels are making me hungry for more pretzels.

  7. These pretzels are making me thirsty!!! I love your language, don't change a thing. For those who don't, step in a commercial kitchen sometime.

  8. Your pretzels look great, thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe!

  9. Ha I make sure never to clean before I bake. Or shower. I and the floor always end up covered in flour.

    These look amazing! I've been meaning to make pretzels for a while...thanks for motivating me!

  10. That is so cool that you made foodbuzz! Awesome! And I think this could be a fun (read: messy) baking project to do with the young 'uns. Or at least Clea. Maybe Annika would make it hellish.

  11. this recipe has been on my clipboard for 6 months. you have inspired me to take the plunge and make them. yours look yummy!

  12. These look sooo good and sound like a challenge, awesome job!

  13. Not exactly impressed with your language.

  14. sylvia: not exactly impressed with your need to troll my blog and espouse your personal moral code. but hey, different strokes for different folks, right? may i suggest setting up some parental controls to block sites with language you deem offensive in the future? please note that i have never claimed to be remotely PG. there are plenty of food blogs offering such content that you might prefer to visit. (and subsequently complain about). i can suggest some, if you'd like.

    On another note, funny how both commenters complaining about my language live approximately 12 miles apart. maybe it's regional?

  15. the language comments... too funny! lol. i was dying when you said that about the stove! love it!

  16. Well, what can I say from the - ahem- older crowd. I'm looking for recipes that fucking work, not an English essay.You are in the top crowd...these peeps aren't fans of Gordon Ramsey, need I say more! :)

  17. OMG... amazing! BTW --- totally right on the kitchen mess. Appreciate that you made this seem totally doable. You were right, it was.



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