After a week of Halloween sweet excess, we found ourselves craving salty and wholesome things this weekend. Warm, chewy pretzels felt like the antidote that my kids wanted. We used to make these soft pretzels quite often when they were small (even though waiting for the dough to rise can be interminable to a little one), but somehow they had fallen out of our repertoire in the last few years. Truth is the rising/shaping/boiling/baking steps can feel overwhelming, but the time/mess investment is pretty minimal for the winning result. It’s a recipe that I adapted to include some whole wheat flour, but you can make it with all white flour if you wish (or all whole wheat—which makes for a dense and chewy pretzel that I quite like).
These don’t store particularly well, so make sure you have a small crowd with which to share them!
adapted from Alton Brown
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the boil:
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
For the topping:
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
pretzel salt (we used sea salt crystals)
Place the yeast, water, and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add the flours, salt, and butter to the bowl. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low until well combined. Knead on medium speed for five minutes. Dough will be smooth an elastic. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Let the dough sit in a warm place for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare two cookie sheets by covering them with parchment and spraying or brushing with oil. Bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large saucepan or dutch oven.
Turn the dough out and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, and then cross at the ends. Fold the cross over to form the pretzel shape. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, individually, for about 30 seconds. Remove them with a large slotted spoon or spatula and place on parchment lined sheet. Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, approximately 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Best eaten immediately!!