Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baking Soft Pretzels with Jill

Yeah! Another goal completed. Jill from Jill Bakes graciously offered to bake soft pretzels along with me. I love when people bake with me as the camaraderie serves as a good motivator. Plus it's fun!

I've made soft pretzels in the past, but that was years ago and the recipe I used omitted the very crucial step of boiling the dough. The quick dunk in boiling water gives the pretzels that lovely chewy exterior--like bagels.

We decided on Alton Brown's recipe as it is very straight forward and easy to follow. I'm so glad we did because the recipe is a winner! The dough is silky smooth and lovely to work with. And the pretzels taste amazing. Chewy on the outside, soft in the middle. And not dry at all.

I was so involved in the cooking/baking process that I did not take many photos. Fortunately, Jill did, so please check out her post to see the steps better illustrated, and to see her fantastic finished pretzels.

Alton Brown's Soft Pretzel Recipe

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.

Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


  1. Your pretzels look great! It is more fun to bake together, even if we're doing it from across the country!

  2. Those look amazing! I love Alton, he never steers me wrong! I might have to try these some lazy weekend now.

  3. I told Jill the same thing this morning - that's a great recipe and the pretzels always come out perfect!

    Congrats on accomplishing another goal!

  4. These are Marisa's and your dad's favorites. They look so yummy.

  5. Those look amazing! I've been wanting to make soft pretzels for a long time, I'll have to give this recipe a try!

  6. these pretzels look really, really good!

  7. Your pretzels look amazing...congratulations on completing another baking goal!
    Peace, Stephanie

  8. Congratulations on accomplishig another cooking goal. It's so nice to be able to have been able to share the experience.

    Your pretzels look fabulous. Pretzels are not that popular here, in fact I barely see them in shops.

  9. Your pretzels look wonderful! I've made them before, but not this recipe. I'll have to try it...

  10. I've never made soft pretzels, but these look AMAZING! I never thought of making the at home!

  11. Thank you so much for all the awesome comments!!

  12. This is a fascinating post for me. I grew up in Philadelphia, home to the soft pretzel (eaten with mustard), and they are real comfort food for me-- i probably bought and ate one half the days of my youth walking home from school.... I also see them on a continuum with bagels, and I realized above this must have to do with the boiling process and the texture it gives to the outer layer.... Flash forward, I am a sourdough baker, and sometimes I get a flavour reminiscent of pretzels in the bread I bake (usually mixed grain with spelt or rye or barley flour...) Am inspired to make pretzels with your recipe with my kids. Many thanks.

  13. Thank you! I'd love to learn more about sourdough baking. Though I bake bread rather frequently, I've not tackled sourdough.