Soft pretzels are a fun project for your next get-together. I recently took these to a Super Bowl party, and they were a hit! The crust is chewy and slightly crisp, while the inside remains soft and delicious.
These pretzels are boiled prior to baking, and that helps give them a chewy outside while maintaining the soft bread inside. They are excellent dipped in cheese sauce or your favorite mustard! Another great thing about them is that it is likely you have many of the ingredients you need to make these on hand.
Begin by dissolving the sugar in the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit about 10 minutes. Mix in about a cup of flour until well combined.
Then, add about 4 cups more flour, as well as the salt.
You want to add the remaining flour about a half-cup at a time, until the dough is soft and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Knead the dough a few times by hand. Pour the oil into the bowl and swirl it around to coat the bowl. Add the dough, then turn to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently press out the air. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Knead a few times and divide into equal-sized balls of dough. If you want to make large pretzels, make 16 balls. If you want miniature pretzels, make 32.
Roll each ball of dough out into a long rope, at least 12 inches long. Twist the ends over to make the pretzel. If you click on the picture below, you can see an enlarged version to better see what’s going on. Those would be the adept hands of my husband! He is far more skilled at making pretzels than I!
Let the pretzels rise a little bit, about 15 minutes or so.
Heat a large skillet with about 2 inches of water to boiling. Gradually add the baking soda (it will bubble up a bit) and turn down the heat to a simmer. Poach a few pretzels at at time for about 30 seconds on each side. Place on baking sheets dusted with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper.
Beat the egg with about 1 tablespoon of water. Brush egg on the unbaked pretzels and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake them until they are golden brown. Remove from the baking sheets and cool, or serve warm! Make sure to store them uncovered at room temperature, so they stay nice and chewy!
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 TB sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 1/4 oz package) active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola (or vegetable) oil
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 large egg
pretzel salt (or coarse kosher salt)
Dissolve sugar in the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. Add one cup of flour and mix well. If using a dough hook, attach it at this time. Add 4 cups of flour and salt; mix well. Add flour about 1/2 cup at a time until dough is no longer sticky and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until soft and smooth, about 8 to 10 times.
Pour oil into bowl and swirl to coat the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add dough to bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and lightly press the air out of it. Let rest about 10 minutes. Divide dough into equal portions: 16 for large pretzels, 32 for miniature pretzels. Roll each portion out into a long, skinny rope. Form into a pretzel shape and place onto baking sheets. Let rise for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with about 2 inches of water to a boil. Gradually add baking soda to water, and turn down to a simmer. Poach each pretzel about 30 seconds on each side. Place onto baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper.
Beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush over unbaked pretzels and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.
Pretzels are best the day of baking. However, they can store for up to 2 days, uncovered, at room temperature.
Makes 16 to 32 pretzels, depending on the size you choose.