Soft Pretzels

Plain and cinnamon sugar soft pretzels!It’s my first time to bake bread! \o/ In the past, when I look for recipes for to do and see yeast listed in the ingredients – I always skip that recipe and think to myself, “I’ll save that when I’m a legit baker” HAHA. But I thought there are so many recipes I’m missing out just because I don’t want to use yeast so I decided to try it and I’m so glad I did! ^__^/

I’m surprised to see that many of us are thinking twice before using yeast. I thought I was just the only one skipping recipes with yeast because of the fear they require mad baking skills to control but really fear not! It’s just an ordinary baking agent you have to add, there will just be extra steps after such as kneading and waiting for the dough to rise.

I was surprised that I had so much fun making the bread: from waiting for the dough to rise – to dough kneading – to shaping. I missed school days, and I thought how come bread making can’t be used for school experiments (well in my school they didn’t)! It’s fun and amazing, and it teaches alcohol fermentation in such a practical way!

SO the real reason I’m baking these babies is that I miss me some Auntie Anne’s pretzels! (I’ve wanted to make pretzels but there’s yeast involved) When I was younger there weren’t many Auntie Anne’s here in the Philippines but now I see them everywhere ^__^/ I remember saving up for these babies every weekend just to by one. I got the recipe for the pretzels here and some tips plus the idea for cinnamon sugar here 🙂

Now who misses the smell of freshly baked pretzels, with a crunchy and buttery crust and a soft chewy center?

Ingredients:
2 cups milk For baking soda bath*:
1 ½ tbsp dry yeast 1/3 cup baking soda
6 tbsp brown sugar 3 cups warm water
4 tbsp butter, melted
4 ½ cups flour For Cinnamon sugar*:
2 tsp fine salt 2/3 cup granulated sugar
10 tbsp butter, melted in a shallow dish 2 tsp cinnamon

*optional

Ingredients for soft pretzels

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat milk for about 1 minute; just warm enough for you to keep your finger in it – any more than that will kill the yeast.
  2. Add yeast and stir, then let it stand for about 3 minutes. introducing yeast!
  3. Add butter and sugar.              milk + yeast, butter, sugar, egg
  4. Add flour gradually about 1 cup at a time. soft pretzel dough
  5. Add fine salt.
  6. Knead for about 10 minutes. For first timers like me, I referred to this tutorial to learn how to knead the dough 🙂

knead that dough!

before kneading

soft pretzel dough after kneading

                     after kneading

  1. Transfer the kneaded dough in a BIG bowl (trust me this creature is gonna get BIG!) and cover with cling wrap. soft pretzel rise @time zero
  2. Let the dough rise for an hour in a moist, warm place (aka Philippines 🙂 ) until double in size.                  soft pretzel rise after 1 hr
  3. Preheat oven to 450 deg F (233 deg C).
  4. Punch down dough and divide into 12 lumps. soft pretzel doughs ready to be rolled!

TIP: I got this tip from the author of the recipe: Start out by dividing the dough into two – then divide them evenly into three. Or you can opt for smaller pretzels if you want, I just want my pretzels BIG!

  1. Roll the lumps out as thin as you can.
  2. Form the pretzel by forming a U-shape first, then tie the ends to form a ring and pull it towards yourself. Seal the pretzels in place by pinching on the ends.
shaping a pretzel step 1: form a ring shaping a pretzel step 2: tie a knot and pull to the ends

*OPTIONAL step: Baking soda bath

This extra step will give your pretzels the trademark deep brown color. The lighter pretzels on the left are made without the baking soda bath. You can see that they’re a little lighter in color (you can see light spots) unlike the ones on the right made with a baking soda bath which are dominantly dark. The difference will be more pronounced on plain pretzels 🙂

soft pretzels without baking soda bath

without baking soda bath

without baking soda bath

                with baking soda bath

WHAT TO DO: Combine warm water and baking soda in a wide bowl. Then dip your pretzels for 20-30 seconds, remove and let drip before you put them in a baking sheet.

 soft pretzel dough for baking soda bath  soft pretzel baking soda bath
after baking soda bath

                       after baking soda bath

TIP: Oversoaking your pretzels in the baking soda bath will give you a metallic taste (I taste this even in commercial pretzels). So make sure to time your soak or stay in the lower range just to be sure 🙂

  1. Bake the pretzels at 450 deg F (233 deg C) for 7 to 11 minutes or until they’re golden brown.

*OPTIONAL step: Cinnamon sugar : For that simple pretzel flavor 🙂

WHAT TO DO: Melt butter in a shallow dish. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a separate shallow dish.

half time: cinnamon sugar coat!Take your pretzels out at half the baking time (I took mine out after 5 mins of baking), then dip in butter first. Let it drip, then dip in the cinnamon sugar next. Lay them out on the baking sheet again, then pop them in the oven for the remaining baking time or until you see that the cinnamon sugar has melted.

Notes:

  1. As forming the pretzels took time, I noticed that the dough kept on rising even after I removed it from the bowl. Don’t worry: just give your dough an extra punch and a knead before forming them into rolls 🙂
  2. Here I tried just the cinnamon sugar topping, but you can also try other ones. My favorite in Auntie Anne’s is the honey almond one – you can also make a cream cheese dip or a caramel dip or a chocolate dip or a cheese dip! I’m going to try these ones next!
  3. For plain pretzels: you can season them with salt before baking, just to give it flavor 🙂
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