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Easy Homemade Soft Pretzels


I've always wanted to try and make soft pretzels.  There is something about a soft, warm pretzel dipped in mustard or cheese sauce that just makes your soul happy.  However, the shaping of the pretzels and the baking soda bath seemed a little intimidating to me!  Well guess what?  It turns out they aren't intimidating at all.  These pretzels come together quickly and are absolutely delicious. 

This recipe makes 8 pretzels and I will admit to you that each of us ate two, no problem at all.  In fact, it's a good thing it only makes 8 or we would have probably kept eating them.  My seasoning of choice is the everything bagel seasoning, (I get mine at Trader Joes), but you can use coarse sea salt or even sesame seeds if you prefer.

Ingredients:
1 cup very warm water
2-1/4 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar - I like brown, but either works
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp salt
2-1/2 to 2-3/4 cups AP flour

8 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda

1 egg whisked together with 1 Tbsp water
Everything bagel seasoning or coarse sea salt
3 Tbsp melted butter

For the dough, in your large mixer bowl combine the water, yeast and sugar and let the yeast activate, (3-5 minutes.)  Add the melted butter, salt and 2 cups of the flour.  Using your dough hook, mix the dough on low speed for about 2 minutes, then start adding the remaining 1/2 to 3/4 cup of flour by spoonfuls until the dough pulls away from the edges of the mixer and is soft but not overly sticky to the touch. (You don't have to use all of it.)  Knead for 2-3 minutes, then cover and let rise in a warm place for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line two sheet pans with silicone mats or parchment paper - if you use parchment paper be sure to spray with a little non-stick spray.  In a large 5-6 qt pasta pot, bring the 8 cups of water to a boil.

While the water is coming to a boil dump out the dough on to your surface, form in to a ball, and divide in to 8 equal parts, (cut dough in half, then half again, then half again.)

Roll each piece of dough in to a rope, about 24 inches long.  Make a "U" shape with the rope, cross the ends over twice, then pull down and press in to the bottom of the U to make a pretzel shape.  (See pics below if it helps.)

Add 1/2 cup baking soda to the boiling water.  (It will foam up, then settle down.)

One at a time, lower each pretzel to the boiling water using a large, slotted spatula and let it boil just 30 seconds in the water, gently pushing it under the water as it boils.  Remove from the boiling water bath using the spatula, letting any additional water drip off and place back on the sheet pan, 4 on each pan.

Brush the top of the pretzels with the egg wash, *sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning or coarse sea salt, then bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven, brush with the melted butter immediately then transfer to a cooling rack for a minimum of 5 minutes.  Serve with dipping sauce if desired!

*If you want to do a sweet pretzel, bush the top of the pretzels with egg wash, DON'T sprinkle with everything bagel or coarse sea salt, bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, remove from oven, brush with melted butter and immediately dip in a mixture of cinnamon sugar.


Shaping the dough:




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