The pretzel recipe prepared in the following section comes from Sprinkle Some Sugar. The inspiration for making these came from the boredom of Winter Break and a friend’s love for soft pretzels.
Unlike instructed in the recipe, these recipes were mixed by hand instead of with a stand mixer. 1 C of water was warmed in the microwave for one minute and was added to a large bowl with sugar and yeast. These were stirred together and allowed to sit for about two minutes, during which the mixture began to foam lightly. Following the recipe, melted butter and salt were added along with 1 C of flour. After combining these, another C of flour was added, stirred until combined, and then one last C was added and mixed in. At this point, the dough was tacky and still stuck to the mixing bowl. Heaping tablespoons of flour were added to the dough until it was kneadable – about three. The dough was then turned out onto a lightly floured counter and kneaded. During this process, the dough continued to stick to the counter and the kneaders hands, so more flour was added. In total, the pretzel dough was kneaded for about 10 minutes (note that the recipe calls for only 5 minutes of kneading). The extra kneading time was required as the dough was not “smooth and pliable” until the 10 minute mark. Pictured below is the dough after kneading.
It took about 20 minutes to reach this point. The above dough was placed back in the original mixing bowl and allowed to proof for about 15 minutes. While the dough was being kneaded, the baking soda bath process was started. As the baking soda & water mixture is supposed to return from boiling to lukewarm, it was decided that that process should begin earlier than instructed in the original recipe.
After 15 minutes of resting, the dough had grown only slightly and and the baking soda bath was lukewarm. The dough was turned out from the mixing bowl, flattened slightly, and cut into eight pieces.
To this point, approximately 40 minutes had passed since starting the recipe. The eight pieces of dough were each rolled out into ~24″ logs. The length was entirely dependent upon the size of each dough piece. The goal in rolling out the pretzels was to make them thin enough to allow for some plumping (when they’re placed in the baking soda bath), but not so thin that they break or would burn when baked. Once one pretzel was rolled out, it was shaped, securing the ends to the body of the pretzel by pinching the dough together.
Once shaped, the pretzel was placed in the baking soda and water bath for about two minutes. During this time, the pretzel would grow a bit in size and the outer crust would develop a bumpy texture. After the water bath, the pretzels were placed on a cookie sheet. At this point, if desired, the pretzels could be decorated with salt or cheese or herbs.
Baking and Final Steps
After rolling out, shaping, and letting the pretzels soak in the baking soda bath, about an hour and 5 minutes had elapsed. The pretzels were baked in shifts, allowing one sheet of pretzels to have the entire oven to themselves. Only two sheets were needed to fit all eight pretzels. After baking, the pretzels had an earthy, tan colored crust, not a deep brown crust as pretzels are known for. However, once taken out and brushed with butter, they seemed to magically change color to resemble typical soft pretzels. This is shown in the image below, as one pretzel is being brushed with butter, exhibiting the lovely dark brown crust, alongside the unbrushed pale pretzels.
After baking and brushing both sheets of pretzels, the recipe was complete. In total, it took about one hour and 30 minutes to prepare, bake, and finish the pretzels. These came out tender and chewy, just like a soft pretzel one would find in a bakery.