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Our best soft pretzel recipe reflects the fondness we have for these delicious treats. Some of my favorite memories seem to involve food and family.
Strolling around malls with my small children many years ago, we discovered a favorite treat our family could share – soft pretzels. In the small food stand, you could buy a pretzel on a stick or a small box of pretzel sticks. With either, you then chose a topping or dipping sauce. Our three young boys each had a preference. One loved the sharp cheddar. Another the cream cheese. And the third always chose the chocolate dipping sauce.
With the little individual boxes in hand, we sat on a nearby bench (no food courts in this small town mall at the time) and enjoyed our treats. The extra napkins the pretzel man provided cleaned the faces and hands. Of course, the boys didn’t care if a little cheese or chocolate encased their fingers. But we carefully cleaned before leaving the mall and going to the car.
Now, many years later, those memories emerge whenever I think of soft pretzels. Yes, we’ve tried the pretzels from the frozen food section of the grocery. And we’ve eaten a few at the county fair over the years. But none create the memory of those early years.
Years later…Our Best Soft Pretzels Recipe emerges…
Those three boys grew into fantastic young men. In time, we added more siblings to the mix.
But we now have the perfect means to evoke those memories and add to them. Our own homemade soft pretzels. Indeed, we still choose our favorite sauce to dip them in. And, we even talk about that little mall, now several states away, as we snack on our pretzels.
Please accept this invitation to create your own family pretzel tradition. However, whether you bake them in the pretzel shape or in small dipping sticks, we know you will enjoy the flavors.In fact, you may find our best soft pretzel recipe becomes a favorite in your family.
NOTE on flour: Bakeries today usually use bleached or unbleached white flour for baking pretzels. You may, too. However, we recommend trying white wheat or even whole wheat. The extra nutrients and fiber provide more nourishment. But we also find that the enhanced flavors offer a bit more complex flavor.
NOTE on flavors: Also, consider adding your own flavor choices to the basic recipe. Some report that they enjoy Jalapeño, ranch, honey mustard, or other ingredients added in the dough before baking. This creates a pretzel with the dipping sauce flavor but in a more manageable travel snack.
Best Soft Pretzel Recipe – Homemade Happiness
Add the Sauce for more choices!
Of course, you may also bake the original version and serve dipping sauces alongside. In fact, this allows each person to explore the flavors and enjoy their favorite.
Dipping Sauce Options
- Cheddar cheese, mild or sharp might be the all-time favorite.
- Cream cheese, try a whipped variety, pairs well with cheddar cheese.
- Nacho cheese, mild, medium, or hot, is favored by many.
- Blue cheese, while not as popular as cheddar, has a solid fan club.
- Any other cheese you favor can be used as a dipping sauce. In fact, you might blend your favorites.
- Jalapeño sauce keeps those loving the spicy flavors happy.
- Chocolate, milk or dark, is popular with many, especially the younger crowd.
- Honey Mustard, the blend that draws us to so many treats to dip, works well with pretzels.
- Honey can also shine on its own.
- Mustard also stands alone as a great dipping sauce.
- Ranch dressing makes an excellent dipping sauce for pretzels and other foods.
- French Onion usually accompanies chips but pairs well with pretzels, too.
- Hummus, with its many flavor choices, adds depth to pretzel snacking.
- Barbeque sauce might seem odd for pretzel dipping, but it works well.
- Peanut Butter, by itself or paired with chocolate, brings more flavor and nutrients to the basic pretzel.
- Your favorite flavors! These represent our top flavors. But we encourage you to experiment. Serve several side-by-side. See which your family and guests prefer.
And now, our best soft pretzel recipe.
Best Soft Pretzel
- 1.5 cups water 110-115°F
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2.5 tsp dry active yeast 1 packet
- 4.5 cups flour
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- vegetable oil
- 10 cups water
- 3/4 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk with 1 tbsp water, beaten together
- pretzel salt
- In your stand mixer bowl, dissolve the kosher salt and the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the mixture and allow to foam for about 5 minutes.
- Attach the dough hook. Add the flour and butter (butter should be warm but not hot) and mix on lowest setting until well combined.
- On the second mixer setting, knead the dough about 5 minutes, until the dough forms a ball and cleans away from the sides of the bowl.
- Oil a large bowl with the vegetable oil, making sure it is well coated.
- Put the dough in the oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour.
- Preheat oven to 450°f
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly oil each with the vegetable oil.
- In a large saucepan or pot, bring the 10 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda.
- On a baking mat or a lightly oiled surface, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
- Roll each out into a 24-inch rope. As you work with each, keep the others covered to avoid drying out.
- Form each into the pretzel shape. Make a U-shape, then bring the ends around to form the pretzel cross.
- Place each on the parchment paper lined baking sheets.
- One at a time, dip the pretzel into the boiling water for about 30 seconds each. Use a large spatula to remove each, placing them back onto the baking sheet.
- Brush the top of each with the egg yolk mixture.
- Sprinkle with pretzel salt.
- Bake about 12-14 minutes. Pretzels are done when they are a deep golden color.
- Remove to a cooling rack for several minutes before serving.
National Pretzel Day
And so, April 26, every year, celebrate these delightful, delicious chewy treats!
Also, look for special promotions each April as pretzel makers use the National Pretzel Day to encourage people to enjoy their products.
But where did they originate?
Many cite a bakery in 1861 in Lititz, Pennsylvania.
And that does seem to be the first recorded soft pretzel in America. But the pretzel actually dates back much further. In fact, back to the Seventh Century Catholic Church. Necessity is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes. And when the early church restricted more staple foods during Lent, the people created the soft pretzel to sustain them through the Lenten season.
While the church may have prompted the original pretzels by a need for food during Lent, over time, others caused the increased popularity. And now, rather than being necessary sustenance, the pretzel holds a place in the snack and treat favorites of many.
For another take on the pretzel and its shape, read on.
**How did the pretzel get its shape? We found some answers at TheDailyMeal
No matter what brand of pretzel you buy, it likely has that same shape. But where does that classic curvy pretzel bend come from? Well, there are a few theories — none of which can be proven true, unfortunately. One legend is that an Italian monk used to gift pretzels to children who learned their prayers; the interlocked arms of the pretzel would have mimicked arms folded in prayer. Another theory claims that the knot shape symbolized a promise. Another legend tells of a medieval baker who was forced by a local noble to craft a loaf through which the sun would shine three times. Others claim that pretzels got their shape for practical reasons only — that the holes allowed them to be hanged on strings for sale or that the shape maximizes the deliciously salty surface area. So why are pretzels shaped like that? The world may never know.
No matter how the shape originated, the world now recognizes it as a “pretzel shape.” In fact, sometimes we refer to other items as pretzel-shaped. While not as common as a square or triangle, it became a very well-known term.