We’ll show you how to make a soft, chewy pretzel, the kind that you find in the little mall shops. Eat them plain or dip them in honey mustard or your favorite dip.
Note: Because you are working around a hot oven and boiling water, this is not an appropriate exercise for small children. Your teenagers will love to make these and kids of all ages will eat them.
How to Make a Pretzel
These pretzels are really quite easy to make. If you can make bread, you can make these pretzels. There’s an extra step: boiling the par-baked pretzels for two minutes. Because they don’t require a second rise, they are actually faster to make than most breads.
These pretzels are an attractive golden color, not the dark bronze that we associate with pretzels from the store. Commercially made pretzels are dipped in lye. You can do so but lye is quite caustic and most of us would choose not work with lye. You can buy food grade lye in some pharmacies. If you do choose to use lye, dip them in lye before boiling. (I’ve never used lye so I can’t give you a lot of help on that one.)
The lye adds a little stronger flavor to the pretzel than pretzels made without lye.
2 tablespoons butter
4 to 5 cups bread flour
1 packet instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk at 110 degrees
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon water
1. Melt the butter in the microwave and set it aside to cool. With shortening or butter, grease a large bowl for the dough.
2. Put about 1/3 of the flour in the bowl of your stand type mixer equipped with a dough hook. Add the yeast and sugar. Add the milk at the indicated temperature. With the dough hook, run the machine for thirty seconds to mix the water with the flour to create a slurry. Add half of the remaining flour, the salt, and the melted butter. Begin mixing at medium speed adding enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Mix at medium speed for about four minutes or until the gluten has formed and the dough is elastic. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. To reach the right consistency, you may need to dribble a little extra water (maybe one tablespoon) or flour as the dough is kneading. Place the dough in the prepared bowl and cover it to keep the dough from drying out while it rises. Let it rise until it doubles.
3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
4. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 12 x 12-inchs. Cut the dough into ½- inch wide strips. Take each and pull them into 16-inch ropes. Form knots as shown. Place them on a greased baking sheet.
5. Bake the pretzels for four minutes and then remove the sheet from the oven. While the pretzels are baking, start the water to boiling with the salt added. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.
6. Boil the pretzels, several at a time, for two minutes, turning once. (We find it easier to set a one-minute timer, turn the pretzels over with tongs, and set the timer again.) Place the pretzels on paper towels to drain. After they are drained, place them back on the baking sheets.
7. Mix the egg yolk and a tablespoon of water together for an egg wash. With a pastry brush, brush the wash on the pretzels. Sprinkle them with coarse salt.
8. Immediately after sprinkling salt on the pretzels, bake them for 23 to 25 minutes or until golden. (If you let the salt sit in the egg wash before baking, the salt will start to dissolve.) Remove the baked pretzels to wire racks to cool.