I’m not sure why I start making pretzels as soon as October hits, the weather turns and it officially starts to feel like fall. Maybe it’s because a soft warm pretzel is just good for the soul; maybe it has something to do with Oktoberfest; or maybe it’s because once I realized that homemade pretzels were easier than expected, I had to find a way to throw them into my seasonal baking rotation.
As with all baked goods, the most important ingredient is patience. Make sure to read the instructions carefully, and have everything measured out and ready to go beforehand. When working with yeasted dough, timing is of the essence. If you follow these instructions carefully, you will end up with the most delicious, satisfying pretzels you have ever tasted.
Pretzels might seem like an intimidating task, but after you make them once, you will see how easy they are to come together. These are the perfect snack to serve at your next football Sunday party, to serve on an Oktoberfest-themed board (this is my favorite) or to wow your friends with at Friendsgiving. These pretzels can be modified however your heart desires: Add some garlic, Parmesan and herbs for an ultra savory pretzel; dust the top with cinnamon sugar for a sweeter option; bake with marinara, cheese and pepperoni on top for a pizza-inspired pretzel. The opportunities are endless — just follow your taste buds and you won’t be disappointed.
Preparation time: 2 hours (55 minutes active time)
Servings: 8 to 10
- 1½ cups warm water (about 110-120 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package instant dry yeast (or 2¼ teaspoons)
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 ounces salted butter, melted
- 4 teaspoons avocado or canola oil
- 10 cups water
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl
- Maldon or pretzel salt for finishing
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water, sugar and kosher salt. Mix to combine.
- Sprinkle yeast on top and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes until it begins to foam.
- Add the flour and butter.
- Use the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until all ingredients have been combined.
- Increase the speed to medium, and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until the dough smooths out and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.
- Remove the dough and finish the knead by hand for about 30 seconds, and form a tight ball.
- Add 2 teaspoons oil to the bowl, place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with remaining oil. Set aside.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide into 10 equal pieces.
- Begin the process of twisting the pretzel:
- Evenly apply pressure to the dough and roll out each piece into a rope about 18 to 20 inches in length.
- Form a U-shape with the dough and twist the ends.
- Attach the twisted section of the pretzel to the bottom of the U.
- Gently press the two ends to the bottom of the U to ensure they don’t separate.
- Add the pretzels to the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds.
- Remove from the water using a large wire spoon and add to the prepared parchment pan.
- Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg and water mixture and top with finishing salt.
- Bake until golden brown in color, about 12 to 14 minutes.
- Let cool on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes, and serve warm.