Soft Pretzels

Once upon a time… a long, long time ago, there was a little girl who loved to make pretzels. She had a little sister who just loved pretzels. And so, two decades later, this little girl rediscovered the soft pretzel, much to the delight of her little sister and her five other siblings.
I have to say that the new pretzel recipe is quite a bit better than the old one (though the old pretzel memories are fondly remembered) or perhaps our taste buds have matured over the years. Either way, in tweaking with this recipe, I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade (64 pretzels later), that make the process fun and easy.

Soft Pretzels
(And, no, this recipe doesn’t make 64 pretzels – just a good baker’s dozen, or fewer if you like bigger, thinner pretzels.)
1 T. yeast
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. white flour, plus some
2 c. warm water
1/4 c. baking soda
melted butter

Combine yeast, water, and sugar. Stir to combine and let sit a couple minutes. Add half the flour and salt and beat to mix thoroughly. Knead in remaining flour until dough is soft, but not too sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, flip once, and cover with plastic wrap, or a damp bread towel.
Let rise one hour.

I know you’re thinking this just doesn’t look right, but it totally works. Work the dough into a ball and divide into as many parts as you want pretzels. In my case it was eight – times four.

Roll each portion into a rope about 12 inches long – don’t worry about looks at this point. This step is just to get the dough working properly. You’ll notice that the ropes quickly shrink in size. Let them rest for about 5 minutes, before rolling them out long and thin.

While you’re waiting that five minutes, mix the soda and 2 c. warm water in a bowl big enough to dip the pretzels in.

And melt some butter.
Back to the dough… The longer, the better. They will shrink up a little bit still, so keep that in mind. Sometimes, you have to get creative about where you put the one end of the dough while you’re rolling out the other end a mile away.
I didn’t even think to get step by step pictures on how to make the pretzel shape, but it’s a lot easier than it looks. Just create a U with the rope. Holding both ends, twist together once before resting the ends on the bottom part of the U. Now grab the bottom of the pretzel where the ends meet  and quickly dip into the soda mixture before laying on a buttered cookie sheet.
Sprinkle with salt and bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Brush with melted butter immediately after removing from oven and let them sit on the baking sheet a minute or two before removing to a cooling rack. This helps them release from the pan without a fight.

Serve them warm with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.

Or melted butter and Italian garlic Parmesan cheese.

Or melted butter and cheese all over the top.

Or just plan melted butter.
And so, with their pretzels and melted butter, the seven siblings lived happily ever after.

The End

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