Pretzels are an interesting part of many cultures, and in fact may be the source of the common phrase “tying the knot.” It is believed that because royalty in Switzerland used pretzels in their wedding ceremonies as a symbol of unity, the phrase became associated with weddings and it stuck, even after the tradition of using the food in wedding ceremonies faded.
Don’t let these pretzels intimidate you, this recipe is way easier to make than you think it would be! It’s perfect for first time pretzel makers. Some of the pretzel recipes out there are complicated, but ours is easy to follow and doesn’t require a huge amount of pretzel making skill. The only thing you might have to worry about is how pretty you can make the pretzel twists. Use bread flour to ensure the texture of the pretzels turns out soft and fluffy. When getting the perfect crust on your pretzels, you can either use baking soda or food grade lye. Jeff used food grade lye because he had never used it before and he wondered what would happen if he did, but it’s quite reactive and can be a little intimidating if you’ve never used it before. He suggests using gloves and keeping any kids out of the kitchen if you have little ones at home. The baking soda is a little more manageable and a little easier to get your hands on. Either way, you will have really delicious pretzels.
Eat these pretzels up quickly! Our taste testers had no problems eating them in one sitting, but if they had, Jeff could have just microwaved them for a few seconds the next day and revived them. Luckily, our testers took one for the team and devoured the pretzels quickly and like wild animals who have never eaten food before. Jeff made two flavors, classic salt and Everything Bagel Seasoning flavor. The bagel seasoning was a fan favorite, but both were absolutely delicious. Pair with some German Style Mustard for the ultimate savory indulgence.
- 4 Cups Bread flour
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Demerara Sugar
- 1 Cup warm water (120 F is ideal temperature)
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 3 Tbsp butter, softened
- Kosher Salt - for sprinkling
- Optional - Everything Bagel Seasoning - Everything pretzels!
- For water bath - 2 quarts water
- For water bath - ½ cup baking soda or food grade lye
- In a measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in warm water. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Form a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the sugar to the center. Pour the yeast mixture in the well and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Add the softened butter to the mixing bowl. Using dough hooks, or by hand, knead to a smooth dough. It took about 6-8 minutes with dough hooks. Add water if necessary, tablespoon at a time. Let dough rest for 30 minutes.
- Cut dough into 12 equal portions. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp towel. Roll each piece into a rope approximately 20 inches long, and tapered at the end. Make sure they are 20 inches long, as they make the best pretzel shape.
- Form your ropes into pretzels. Place dough on parchment lined baking sheet and create a ‘U’ shape. Take both ends of the ‘U’ and cross them over each other twice, forming a twist. Bring the twist down and place it over the bottom curve of the ‘U’. Viola! Place pretzels uncovered, in refrigerator for about an hour. This will help make a shiny crust.
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Fill a Dutch oven, or a large pot with 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Gloves are suggested for the next step. Carefully add ½ Cup Baking soda, or food grade Lye to water. Be careful-this will cause a chemical reaction. Be prepared, as it will pop and fizz for a second. Add pretzels, 2 at a time to solution for 10 seconds each side. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment.
- Score the dough with a sharp knife, or razor. Sprinkle with Large Flake Kosher salt, or Everything Bagel Seasoning. Bake pretzels for 15-20 minutes, or slightly longer for darker pretzels.
Note: Authentic German pretzels use Lye solution. Baking soda works well also if you don’t use Lye. Use caution using either.