Thursday, November 4, 2010

Soft Pretzels

I don't do much baking, but of course I wanted to participate in "Challah for Healing", so my kids and I made whole wheat soft pretzels/bagels.  I used the basic recipe and method shown in the Good Eats episode "Pretzel Logic" with some changes.  Did I mention I have trouble sticking to recipes?  This was my first time trying to make pretzels and I think they were pretty good, but I think I will try a different recipe next time, or increase the kneading and rising.

Take any recipe for bagels, pizza, or soft pretzels that looks good to you, let it rise, then start having fun with the dough.  This is my favorite shaping technique:
1. Roll two skinny snakes around 6 inches each.
2. Dampen the dough and roll each snake in a different colored topping, like poppy seeds and sesame seeds, or paprika and curry.  Push it in well, or it'll fall off when you boil the pretzels.
3. Twist the two snakes and bring the ends together to form a circle.

The thing that makes them more "pretzel-ly" is a 30-second boil in baking soda water.  It's about 2/3 cup baking soda for 10 cups of water.  Then you brush them with an egg yoke and water wash and top them with whatever you want (salt, sesame seeds, spices, etc).  After that they only bake for 10-15 minutes, less if you made them very thin, in a 400-450 degree F oven (200-235 C).
 Here are the ingredients I used:
3.75 cups warm water
2.5 Tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp kosher salt (plus more on top)
5.6 tsp or 1.9 Tbsp yeast
11.3 cups flour plus a little for rolling
10 Tbsp/0.6 cups (2/3 cups) fat

I mixed all the wet ingredients and poured it on top of all that flour.  I mixed with my hands.  I think some more stretching the dough and letting it rest might have improved the consistency, but I was in a bit of a hurry.

The big mistake I made is that I used parchment paper and the wet, eggy pretzels stuck badly.  I think letting them drip onto a a drying wrack and/or using a Silpat mat would have greatly improved the results.  Egging and "dressing" them on a wrack, then transferring them will probably give the cleanest results.  If you can't do this, use a well greased pan, otherwise you will either be shaving paper or foil off your pretzels or eating it.

Update: Since this project I bought a silicon mat and brush, so the next time I bake pretzels I will not be egging them with a paper towel and picking parchment paper off the bottoms.   


  1. After helping you guys to make funny things from the dough, I can tell you that all my family thought that the dough was very good, but they all said that we put too much spices on the top...

  2. I just made these and they're almost gone! I don't think we can go back to the frozen store-bought ones anymore...I didn't add any spices, just dipped them in spicy mustard.

  3. Wow, that's nice to hear Leor. Did you use the same "recipe"? I also ate mine with mustard, but ours got mixed reviews in my house. Of course, mine were whole wheat. I might have actually used too much egg and boiled some of them too long. If I do it again I will made mezonot pretzels, but for the purposes of taking Challah with a blessing, I stuck to the standard flour and water.



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