Pretzels

I never do all of my grocery shopping at just one store; I usually have the time to visit a few different stores to get the best deals so I do.  I also shop at a local warehouse club since we have the room in our basement to store items in bulk.  It’s a great place to stock up on 10 lb bags of sugar and flour so I can keep churning out the goodies you see here :)  The highlight of my stop at the warehouse club, though, is always the soft pretzel I treat myself to.  They’re extra chewy and the coarse salt sprinkled over them is delicious!  I almost never go to the mall so my warehouse club pretzel is sort of my substitute for those mall pretzels that are so popular.  It’s the little things, right?   

Pretzels

I do made pretzels at home from time to time and this recipe is by far my favorite of the ones I’ve tried.  It’s fairly similar to many other recipes but I think it’s slightly faster and easier.  Unlike most pretzel recipes, this one doesn’t call for boiling the pretzels before baking – instead they’re just dipped in a baking soda solution.  The dough is a cinch to put together too – I prefer to make it in my food processor because it only takes about 2 minutes but if you don’t have a food processor you could also do it in a stand mixer, bread machine, or by hand.  I’ve only included the food processor instructions below, but you can follow the link to King Arthur Flour’s site below for details on the other methods. 

The pretzels emerge from the oven having developed a nice golden brown color, and then, to take them over the top, they’re brushed (liberally!) with melted butter.  I love these pretzels so much I never allow myself to make the full recipe because I know I won’t be able to resist eating them all!  They have the perfect soft, chewy texture and while so far I’ve only made them with the butter and salt topping, I know they’d be delicious with a cinnamon sugar topping if that’s more your thing. I still love the warehouse club pretzels, but when I want a homemade version this is my go-to!

Hot Buttered Pretzels
adapted from King Arthur Flour

Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm water (about 100 F)

Topping
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Add the flour, salt, sugar and yeast to the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Pour the water through the feed tube, then process for 7-10 seconds, or until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl.  Process the dough for 45 seconds – you should have a soft, slack dough that’s somewhat tacky.  Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor, shape it into a ball and coat it with flour.  Put the dough in a large resealable plastic bag.  Seal the bag, but don’t press out the air – you want to leave room for the dough to expand.  Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 F.   Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70 g each).  Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, add 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda to a small bowl and whisk until the baking soda is completely dissolved.

Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a long, thin rope (between 25 and 30 inches long).  Shape each rope into a pretzel by making a U-shape and then twisting the ends of the rope over one another and pressing them onto the bottom of the U-shape (see illustration here).  Dip each pretzel in the baking soda solution, flipping the pretzel if necessary to make sure the whole thing is coated, then place them on the prepared baking sheets.  Sprinkle the pretzels lightly with coarse salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels for 8-9 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets at the halfway point.

Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush all of the melted butter evenly over them.  The pretzels are best when warm but can be reheated in the microwave.

Makes 8 pretzels (the recipe halves perfectly too if you want a smaller yield)