Soft pretzels are one of those glorious, junky snacks that I only eat a few times a year and in very specific settings: at the mall, a sports arena, or perhaps theme park. There is something both delicious and disgusting about them though it doesn’t stop me from enjoying them as an occasional indulgence.
My daughter and I have been reading this cute Eric Carle book called “Walter the Baker” and decided on a rainy Monday to try our hand at making some homemade pretzels, just like Walter the Baker does for the duke and duchess in the book. Of course, we added our own twist with the American flavors of an everything bagel.
She loved helping me make the dough, shaping the pretzels with me, and especially dipping the pretzels into the water-baking soda mixture–just like how they do it in her book.
This recipe makes six pretzels, which I thought was the perfect amount to have on hand for a fun snack, but not so many that I was shoving them in my mouth without abandon when no one was looking.
If your kids (or you) don’t like all the seeds on top, just leave them off and top with a sprinkling of thick sea salt.
Need help shaping the pretzels? I did too and liked this video from Laura in the Kitchen.
My version of soft pretzels was inspired by this recipe from The Food Network.
1 cup milk
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
3 tbsp light brown sugar
2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups warm water
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp each of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried minced garlic, dried minced onions and thick sea salt crystals
Mustard for serving (optional)
1. Warm the milk in a saucepan on medium heat until it is a temperature warmer than lukewarm, but not quite simmering (around 110 degrees).
2. Pour the yeast in a mixing bowl and add the warm milk. Stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of flour using a wooden spoon.
3. Add the remaining 1 ¼ cups flour, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and mix until you have a sticky ball of dough. If you have a stand mixer, I put my dough at this point into the mixer using the dough hook attachment and mixed for just a few minutes.
4. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise one hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large baking sheet.
6. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut dough into six even pieces.
7. Roll out each piece of dough into a long snake. Loop the rope into a u shape, cross the strands and then form a pretzel shape. Pinch each end tightly into the pretzels. Note: the longer you make the strands, the thinner the pretzels. The shorter the strands, the fatter the pretzels.
8. Fill a large bowl with the baking soda and warm water. Dip each pretzel into the water mixture and place onto the greased baking sheet.
9. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl. Mix sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion, dried garlic and thick sea salt in another small bowl.
10. Brush egg over each pretzel and top with seed and salt mixture.
11. Bake until golden, around 10 minutes. Serve with mustard if desired.