Soft Pretzels – Homemade, chewy dough is twisted in a pretzel shape, dipped in a soda bath, and baked until deep golden brown
September may mean pumpkin everything to some but it also brings the start of Oktoberfest. This year, it begins on September 17th. This annual festival is traditionally held in Munich, Germany, but many across the world make German foods and drink German beers to help celebrate this festival in their own way.
One of the best things to serve with German beer is a soft pretzel. It pairs perfectly with a cold, refreshing Pilsner or Hefeweizen. But do you really need an excuse to eat pillowly-soft carbs?
Without further ado, here is my recipe for Soft Pretzels.
Making these pretzels
Pretzel dough is super simple to make. All you need is bread flour, yeast, water, and salt. But what takes it over the top is the barley malt syrup. I love the flavor that the syrup gives the dough. You can also use brown sugar if you don’t have any malt syrup available. I happened to have some left over from making bagels so it was an easy addition to the dough.
Once the dough is formed, it’s left to rise until doubled in size.
Forming the pretzels
After the dough has risen, it’s punched down and separated into 12 even portions. Each portion is rolled into a 22-inch log and then formed into a U. The two ends are twisted twice and then folded over to form the pretzel. The pretzels are left to rest for 15 minutes before their bath.
Baking the pretzels
Before the pretzels are placed in the oven, they are dipped in a baking soda bath. Baking soda is added to boiling water and stirred together. Then, the pretzels are dipped in the bath for about a minute. After the bath, they are removed and added to a baking sheet with parchment paper. Finally, they are sprinkled with a little salt and baked until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Tips & Tricks
- Baking soda bath. This step is incredible important. The bath the pretzels take before baking will lay the foundation for their deep brown sheen that forms in the baking process.
- Easy on the salt. Pretzel salt is strong so don’t over-salt the pretzels or they will be hard to eat. Just a light sprinkle will be enough.
- Bread flour. This recipe is exclusively for bread flour to ensure the pretzels are perfectly chewy.
- 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup or dark brown sugar
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons instant yeast
- 5½ cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup baking soda
- pretzel salt
- Add flour, yeast, water, barley malt syrup, and salt to mixture and stir with a dough hook until it forms a ball. If it is too sticky to the touch, add more flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is manageable. Once manageable, remove dough from bowl and place on floured surface.
- Begin to knead by hand for 5 minutes until the dough is soft. You can also do this in the stand mixer but I like kneading by hand so I can tell when the texture is right. When finished, place ball of dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with damp paper towel and let rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size. Make sure to place in a warm, draft-free spot. I like to place my dough in the microwave.
- Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Once the dough has risen, punch dough down with your fist. Turn out dough onto floured surface. Cut dough into 12 even wedges. Take one wedge and begin rolling into a log. Gradually increase the length of the log until it's about 22 inches long. Then form strip into U. Twist the two ends at the top two times and then fold down to attach the ends to the bottom of the U, forming the pretzel. Press down dough to seal it into place. Place formed pretzel on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other 11 strips of dough. Let pretzels rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare water bath for the pretzels. Place 8 cups of waters into a large sauce pan and heat to high. Once water is boiling, carefully add baking soda. Stir to help the soda dissolve. Once dissolved, reduce heat to medium.
- Gently add pretzels to water. Add as many that will fit without crowding the pan. Boil for 30 seconds and then flip to other side to boil for another 30 seconds. Remove pretzels and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart from eachother, with only 6 pretzels per baking sheet. Sprinkle each pretzel with a little coarse sea salt.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes until deep golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.