For a pretzel fan, there’s nothing better than baking these treats fresh at home. Pretzels are first boiled, then finished in the oven to achieve the classic taste and texture. Learn how to make either big soft pretzels or crunchy snack pretzels in your own kitchen.
- 1 cup water, warm
- 3 1/4 of cups of all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 ounce unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 8 more cups of water
- 1 egg yolk
- Pretzel salt
MAKING THE DOUGH
Proof the yeast.
Place the warm water, sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture until the sugar and salt are dissolved, then sprinkle the yeast over the liquid. Stir gently, then allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast starts to foam and produce little bubbles.
Add the flour and the butter.
Sprinkle the flour evenly over the mixture, rather than dumping it all in one place, as it will be easier to mix this way.
Mix the dough.
Using the dough attachment on the mixer set to the lowest speed, or a wooden spoon and your own elbow grease, mix the dough until it is completely combined.
Knead the dough.
If you’re using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, change the speed to medium and let it work the dough until you can see clearly that it pulls away from the bowl. Otherwise, knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, until it’s no longer sticky and forms a smooth, elastic ball.
If the mixture is still gooey and does not pull away from the bowl, add a tablespoon of flour at time and keep stirring until the consistency is right.
Let the dough rise.
Grease a large bowl with the oil and put the dough in it. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit somewhere warm for an hour or two, until the dough has doubled in size.
ROLLING AND SHAPING THE PRETZELS
Roll the dough.
Grease a work surface with some oil and place the dough on it. Grease your hands as well. Set the dough on the work surface and roll it with your hands to form a thick rope Roll the dough into a think rope about the length of your forearm (the length from the tip of your middle finger to your elbow). Divide it into 8 more or less equal size pieces.
Shape the pretzels.
To make the classic pretzel shape, arrange a length of dough in a u-shape. Cross the ends and press them into the two sides of the U. You can also break up the dough into smaller pieces and create mini pretzels, spears, or other fun shapes.
Make sure the ends are securely pressed or they will loosen later when you drop them in the boiling water.
If you’re making hard pretzels, break the dough into about 24 pieces and create smaller shapes, like rods or twists.
BOILING AND BAKING THE PRETZEL
Heat the oven.
If you’re making soft pretzels, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. For hard pretzels, you need only heat it to 350 degrees.
Prepare the water bath.
Mix the 8 cups of water and the baking soda in a shallow pan. Bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat off.
Boil the pretzels.
While the water is still boiling, drop each pretzel carefully, one by one, into the boiling water for around 30 seconds (counting). Place them back on a greased baking sheet.
Brush the pretzels with egg wash.
Mix the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and brush each pretzel with this mixture.
Sprinkle each pretzel with pretzel salt.
Bake the pretzels.
Soft pretzels should be placed in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Hard pretzels are cooked for 50 minutes at a lower temperature. Check on them every 15 minutes to make sure they aren’t burning.
Remove the pretzels from the oven and let them cool.
Place them on a cooling rack or a clean plate. Let them cool for about 10 minutes or until they’re no longer piping hot to the touch. Serve with mustard or cheese sauce, or enjoy plain.