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Soft Pretzels
updated: Jul 19, 2014, 12:00 PM

By Rosie Sullivan

Pretzels may not be quite as versatile as say, a bagel, but they are definitely a welcome snack. Maybe you've never thought to try making a batch at home but they are surprisingly easy and worth the effort! If the kneading, rising, boiling, and cooking technique seems daunting or complicated, guess what - there is a way to whip up a batch in thirty minutes or less.

I happened upon a recipe for 30-min, no rise pretzels (thank you Pinterest) - no mixer needed and there were only five ingredients.
It called for instant (rapidrise) yeast (hence the no rise) but if all you have is active dry yeast be aware that you will need to let the dough rise for at least 45 mins (or until it doubles) before shaping it.

Don't let the baking soda bath intimidate you. This is not a necessary step (and not part of the 30 minute recipe) but will result in the perfectly crisp and brown pretzels shown below. IF you do not wish to take the extra time to boil the pretzels in the baking soda solution, then bake your pretzels for 10 minutes before turning the oven to broil and baking for five more minutes to brown the tops.

While I'm sure everyone is familiar with the shape of a pretzel, shaping them was more difficult than anticipated. Luckily, the internet can be a handy tool; there are way too many tutorials on how to shape the perfect pretzel than there need to be. Regardless, it took a few tries to get the shaping down.

Let's get to it then.

Homemade Soft Pretzels:
1 ½ cup warm water
1 pkg yeast
1 tsp salt
1 Tblsp sugar
~ 4 cups of flour (plus more for kneading)
1 large egg (beaten)
Coarse sea salt if you've got it, for sprinkling

1. Turn oven to 425 F.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Then add the salt and sugar.

3. Add the flour, one cup at a time.

4. Turn dough onto a floured cutting board and knead for 3-5 minutes.

4 a. Here is where you would let the dough rise.
5. Cut into 10-12 chunks and roll each into a rope between 20 and 24 inches long.

Now for the shaping. Twist into knots, cut into little bite-size pieces, form into letters - do whatever your inner child desires.

6. Bring 9 cups water to a boil and add 2/3 cup baking soda.

Then plop the pretzels in (two or three at a time) to the pot for 20 seconds.
Remove from the baking soda solution (pretzels will be slimy) and let drip dry for a second or two (maybe on a paper towel) before transferring them to the baking sheet and giving each pretzel an egg wash.

Then sprinkle on the seasoning.
7. Pop in the oven for 12 minutes. (Again, if you choose to skip the baking soda step, turn the oven to broil for the last five minutes). Keep an eye on them! Burnt pretzels aren't very good.
I was out of parchment paper so did not line my baking sheet with it but suggest that you do. I did lightly grease my sheet though and the pretzels did not stick at all.

I take back my previous statement about the non-versatility of pretzels because you can season them or spice them up in so many ways as well as dip them in different sauces. Next time I plan to use whole wheat flour for a slightly healthier alternative and to branch out and season them with more than just salt. Or I just might add chocolate to the dough.

Variations: Sea salt, rosemary garlic, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, parmesan, poppy seeds

Oh and if you want these to last more than two days put some in the freezer! When ready to munch on pretzels again, pop a few in the oven for a few minutes and they'll be just like fresh-baked.

What are your favorite homemade snacks?


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