Getting back to normal means doing the normal things I love, baking is one of them, eating pretzels is another. I love soft pretzels but have never made the effort to make them myself which is terrible considering they aren't sold on every street corner in the UK.
Soft pretzels are surprisingly easy to make, I've always been okay at baking and can easily whip up a pizza dough but for some reason, possibly as they taste divine, I've always considered pretzels to be a bit of a challenge. They really aren't, they are really easy to do the only problem is that it takes a lot of time, a lot of waiting time anyway.
Browsing the internet there are many variations on the recipe. As usual I tend to change things around, take a part from one recipe book and splice with another, I was hoping I could find a recipe online to link to here but as there isn't a match I'll have to type it all up, luckily I have plenty of photos, I always like to document my first time.
Soft Pretzel Ingredients (to make 12) Gas Mark 6 (200c/400f) 60 Minutes Preparation total but up to 2 hours for the dough to rise
- 350g Strong white bread flour
- 150g plain flour
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2tsp dried active yeast
- 1tsp salt
- 1tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil
For the glaze
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
- Coarse sea salt
- 1 egg
For cinnamon sugar
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 1 egg
- 60g Caster Sugar
- 3 tsp ground cinnamom
- 40g unsalted butter
For those wishing to know the nutritional value I've used the database on MyFitnessPal and the ingredients/brands shown in the photo I've calculated the following per pretzel, based on dough being divided into 12 pretzels:
Salted Pretzel: 184 Calories, 32g Carbohydrates, 4g Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 6g Protein
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel: 220 Calories, 38g Carbohydrates, 5g Fat, 3g Saturated Fat, 6g Protein
I decided to do roughly half salted and half cinnamon sugar, if you wish to do half and half just half the quantity of the last three ingredients for cinnamon sugar.
Okay, let's get started!
The first steps will be familiar if you are a regular baker, we need to get the dough done.
- Pour 300ml of warm water into a jug, add the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Mix together and leave to sit for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl sift together the two types of flour, sugar and salt.
- Slowly add the yeast mixture to the large bowl, combine with the flour until it forms a soft dough, use a large wooden spoon to begin with but don't be afraid to get your hands stuck in.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, work it, beat it, get it smooth and stretchy.
- Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film and a tea towel and move to a dry warm place not in direct sunlight. I use under the radiators (never on top) in winter but while the sun is still shining I'll find somewhere in the conservatory out of direct sunlight to hide the bowl. Leave for 1-1.5 hours until the dough has doubled.
|Dough proofing, before and after
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, punch down the dough and work into a long roll - like a swiss roll. Cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces - if you want smaller pretzels try cutting it into 16 pieces or if you prefer large go for 8. I've done 12 and made a variety of sizes.
- This is the fun part, roll the dough between your hands to create a long snake, at least 12 inches but preferably longer - don't worry about them being too thin as they will puff out again. The dough should have plenty of stretch thanks to the bread flour so don't worry about being rough with it. I tend to get into a roll and stretch action as shown in the video below.
How to Stretch and Shape a Pretzel
- Time to make the pretzel shape. Makes sure you have plenty of flour on your hands as well as the surface. Take both bottom ends of the dough, cross the ends over and then twist around each other again (see video for demonstration) pull up to the top of the pretzel and press down loosely - place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat this step for all the pretzels
- Once done cover the pretzels and trays with cling film, I tend to sprinkle a bit of flour on top of the pretzels so that they don't stick to the cling film. Place in a warm spot like before, leave for 30 minutes until they've puffed up slightly.
- While waiting preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (200c/400f). Prepare the glaze by mixing the bicarbonate of soda with 4 tablespoons of boiling water.
- Once the pretzels are puffed up brush them with the bicarbonate of soda mix. If making salted this is the time to sprinkle with the sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes.
|Bicarbonate of soda brushed on and a touch of coarse sea salt if doing the salted version
- Remove pretzels from the oven and brush the beaten egg over them although if you're vegan you can get away with skipping this step as the pretzels are already rather golden at this stage. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes before removing them, they should be golden brown with a shiny finish. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before devouring. If wishing to add cinnamon sugar follow the next simple step.
|Cinnamon sugar topping
- For a cinnamon sugar topping - melt the butter (butter substitute works just as well) and brush over the top of the pretzels, mix the caster sugar with the ground cinnamon and then either sprinkle over the pretzels or add the sugar mix on a plate and place the pretzel, butter side down, on the sugar, repeat for each of the pretzels.
|Salt to the left, cinnamon to the right
|Soft, doughy, yum yum goodness under the bright flash spotlight
That's it, really simple but also really delicious!