06 March 2017

Soft pretzels for Lent

I haven't made soft pretzels in years; in my head, they're way too hard for anything other than a special occasion. We needed meatless meals for Kit's nameday last week, though, so I decided to give soft pretzels a try again to make her supper a little more special. And you know what? They really aren't that hard! Time-consuming, yes, and harder than most things for kids to actually helpfully help with... rolling the dough "snakes" took a long time, and Kit didn't understand why she couldn't just wave a piece of dough around in the air for a few seconds and then pat it out on the pan, but Little Bear got the hang of it by the time he was halfway through his second.

And they are sooooo good! If you like soft pretzels and don't mind spending the time shaping them, it's definitely worth trying to make your own.

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup spelt flour (or other whole grain flour)
2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons melted butter (or 3 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil)

10 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
milk or an egg wash (1 yolk + 1 Tablespoon water)
coarse salt

Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast; set aside until foamy. In a mixing bowl, combine flours and salt. When yeast mixture is ready, add to flour along with butter or oil. Combine thoroughly and knead about 8 minutes. Shape into a ball, and place in bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in size.

Begin bringing water and baking soda to a boil in a broad, straight-sided pot, and begin preheating oven to 450 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Divide dough into eight equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a rope/snake at least 24 inches long. Lay on the counter in a U shape; cross the ends over each other twice, and fold the twisted ends down to press against the lower edge of the U, forming a pretzel shape. Place four pretzels on each sheet pan. One at a time, place pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. When each is back onto its baking sheet, brush with egg wash or milk and sprinkle with coarse salt. Don't assume that a kid will interpret "use the smallest amount possible" as anything other than "go ahead and dump the entire thing of salt on it". Remove excess salt as necessary.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from pan right away, and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Thinking about it, there's no logical reason for me to have believed that making pretzels was too hard when I think that making pita is easy. Hmm. I guess it's time to try something else that's always seemed too hard... maybe tortillas? I'll have to start looking around for a recipe, and report back once I've tried!


  1. This is timely because I have been craving soft pretzels ever since we went to a play place at the mall and discovered afterwards that the food court does not have soft pretzels. They're a food court essential in my book.

    And you should definitely try tortillas because when I last tried them they didn't turn out at all so I need someone to teach me. ;)

    1. If you wind up giving the pretzels a try, let me know how they turn out!

      I've found a couple of tortilla recipes that look promising; maybe this weekend or next week (spring break) I'll manage to figure them out.

  2. I always find that any recipe that I don't make regularly is "hard"!

    1. That's true! Sometimes, I don't make things often because they're legitimately hard, but more often they probably just sound hard because they aren't familiar recipes.