Most people consider soft pretzels, and pretzels in general, to be Bavarian in origin. The tasty treats actually began in a small monastery in southern France, where a priest used them to award children for prayers said properly. Turn a pretzel, hard or soft, upside down, and observe how it resembles two arms folded across the chest with hands on opposite shoulders, in prayer. The original soft pretzel was upside down compared to the knotted heart shape we tend to see it as in modern times.
Learn how to make your own pillowy soft pretzels, just like the original French treats, with this easy recipe and pretzel shaping tutorial.
- 1 cup water (lukewarm)
- 3 1/2 teaspoons yeast (active dry)
- 3 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons water (for shaping)
- Baking Soda Bath:
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 2 quarts water
- 2 egg yolks (plus 2 tablespoons water)
- Garnish: coarse salt for finished pretzels
In a large bowl, mix the lukewarm water and active dry yeast. Allow the yeast to dissolve for 3 minutes, and then add the butter, sugar, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Stir the dough until the butter is thoroughly incorporated into it.
Add the remaining flour to the dough and knead it for 5 minutes, until it becomes a smooth, elastic dough. Cover the dough and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
Shape the pretzels in 6 easy steps:
1. Punch down the dough and roll it into a thick log.
2. Cut it into 12 even pieces.
3. Roll each piece into a 20-inch long rope.
4. To form each pretzel, hold an end of the rope in each hand and bring your hands together as if to form a circle with the dough, without pinching the ends together.
5. Leaving 2 inches free on each end of the rope, twist the ends together.
6. Bring the loose ends to the bottom of the dough circle, gently reshaping your pretzel into the desired shape and use a bit of water to help the dough stick together.
Allow the shaped pretzels to rest, uncovered, for ten minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400F and bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in the largest stock pot in your kitchen.
While keeping a bit of distance between yourself and the pot of boiling water, add the baking soda to the water very gradually. Working with one pretzel at a time, add a pretzel to the boiling baking soda bath using a large, slotted spoon. Allow the pretzel to soak up the baking soda bath for 10 seconds, turning once. Replace the pretzel onto the parchment-lined sheet and repeat the soda bath process with all the remaining pretzels.
Brush the pretzels with the egg wash and sprinkle the coarse salt over them. Bake the pretzels for 14 to 18 minutes, until they turn a dark golden brown color. Serve them warm.
Try these Gluten Free pretzels as a restricted diet alternative.