I’ve had a love affair with everything you can make homemade for quite some time now. From homemade oven-baked bread (that didn’t work very well… I need to try that again), to perfect pancakes, applesauce muffins, and even infused liquor, I love when I can take a few simple ingredients and make a whole lot of something I otherwise would have to buy at the store. Someday soon I will foray into making my own yogurt, bagels, kombucha, and sauerkraut too.
One thing I’ve had in the back of my mind to try was soft pretzels. They seemed like an easy enough task, though I wasn’t sure. History claims that a very long time ago, AD 610 according to TLC Cooking, a monk was frustrated with his class and had some leftover bread dough. He rolled the dough out into rolls and made the iconic pretzel shape to resemble hands crossed in prayer. Originally called “pretiola”, Latin for “little reward”, they were quickly re-named “brachiola” which means “little arms”. They reached Germany, where they became a huge hit and were known as bretzels. This translated in America to pretzels, and so the famous street/fair/and sports event food took its place in our history.
So when I found on Sally’s Baking Addiction a 30 Minute Pretzel recipe, I knew I had to try it. However, my favorite soft pretzel is the Auntie Anne’s cinnamon raisin with glaze, so rather than a plain salt that’s what I was after. With a few tweaks, I was sure I could re-create that $6 treat for far less. This recipe ended up making 8 medium-sized pretzels. I’m sure you could cut it in half for one, or make smaller ones for young-uns. You can also omit the cinnamon and use less sugar and just roll in sea salt for regular soft pretzels and dip in mustard or cheese. In fact, I think I’ll need to make another batch of plain this weekend…
1.5 cups water
1 packet yeast
1 cup sugar or brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
4 cups flour plus extra
2 eggs, beaten
Step 1: Pour the yeast into 1 1/2 cups warm-ish water and stir. You don’t have to wait for anything to rise, just mix it well.
Step 2: Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. (Flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and raisins). Add in the yeasty water and mix with your hands. Add more flour if needed. Once you have a fairly rubbery dough, break off a fist-sized chunk and place on a floured surface.
Step 3: Roll the dough out into a long strand, then cross it over into the pretzel shape. I’m actually going to try making letters and other shapes next time.
The next step is optional. Rumor has it boiling in baking soda water gives pretzels that chewy texture and browned color. Boil 1 cup baking soda in 9-10 cups water. Dunk the pretzels, and let boil for 5 minutes, then dry on a rack before baking. **Oh wait… it said 30 seconds. That could explain a lot. Only leave them in the boiling soda water for 30 seconds if you do this step**
A little hint: putting a wooden spoon across the top of a pot keeps it from boiling over. At least up to a certain point.
My post-baking conclusion was that while the boiling did cause a different color and taste, I like the pretzels without the baking soda step better, so I won’t be doing that in the future. However feel free to experiment yourself, maybe the altitude has something to do with it… #ColoradoBakingProblems
Step 4: Beat the eggs in a flat bowl/plate and coat the pretzels fully.
Step 5: Brush on some butter and cinnamon/sugar if you want extra sweetness. Bake the pretzels at 425 for 10-15 minutes, until nicely browned. Make sure to watch for burning.
Step 6: To make the glaze, take 1 cup powdered sugar and mix in 2 tbsp melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla flavoring, and 1-3 tbsp milk (depending on the consistency you want).
Drizzle the glaze over your pretzels and enjoy!
Warm and chewy right out of the oven, these pretzels were fantastic! Just as good, if not better, than anything I’ve had from a mall or baseball field. Will definitely be making these regularly, they are so easy and take less than a half hour total time.
National Pretzel Day is April 26, so you have plenty of time to practice and perfect your favorite recipe!
80% of all pretzels in the United States are made in Pennsylvania, where the hard pretzel originated. Unfortunately the Pretzel Museum in Philadelphia has closed, but they leave behind some fun facts:
Pretzels without salt are called baldies.
An 1859 parade in New Orleans featured a float carrying a pretzel-baking machine.
An average pretzel has 3.5 grams of fat and 260 calories.
German kids wear pretzels around their neck for good luck on New Year’s.
Pretzels top some Christmas trees in Austria.
A page in the prayer book used by Catharine of Cleves depicts St. Bartholomew surrounded by pretzels which were thought to bring good luck, prosperity and spiritual wholeness.
For lots more fun facts on pretzels check out the TLC website.
What’s your favorite type of pretzel or topping?