Pretzels are knot shaped dough poached in baking soda then baked. These are surprisingly simple and easy to make. This is my no-fail homemade pretzel recipe that I have been using for years with many different toppings and sauces.
In the stand mixer bowl, combine flour and salt.Pro tip - We add salt to the flour, not the yeast mixture. As salt can slow the process of yeast fermentation.
In a measuring cup, combine water, yeast, sugar, and oil.Pro tip - You can add all these to the flour mixture directly, but I like to ensure everything is well combined first.
Then, add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture. Run the mixer on medium-high until all the flour is incorporated.
Continue to knead for 3 minutes more at medium speed. The dough will be soft, slightly sticky but elastic.Pro tip - If you are doing this by hand, you will need to knead for about 5 to 6 minutes.
Transfer to a floured work surface and shape into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl - cover and let rise for 60 minutes or until double in volume.Pro tip - If you want to slow the process of rising place the bowl in a warm (switched-off) oven. Alternatively, you can slow the process of rising by leaving it in the fridge to slowly rise up to overnight.
Shape the pretzels
Once doubled - transfer to a floured work surface.
Divide dough into 2 then each portion into 6 (this makes 12 pretzels) see video.Pro tip - This is just a guide, you may choose to make smaller or bigger pretzels. Divide the dough into fewer or more portions.
To shape the pretzel, roll each piece of dough into a long rope with pointed ends about 25 to 27 inches long (see video).Pro tip - I like to do all the ropes to about 10 to 15 cm then go and roll them again. Letting them rest in between helps the gluten relax and the dough won't resist.
Shaping the pretzels - Bring the two ends towards each other to make a circle on the top (see video). Then, twist the two ends and bring them back to the bottom of the circle towards you (see video). Press the ends on the dough to form the classic pretzel shape.
Place all the pretzels on a flour baking tray. Cover and leave to proof for 30 minutes.
Poaching & Baking
Preheat the oven at 375°F/ 190°C/ Gas Mark 5.
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a wide saute pan. Add the baking soda. The water will start to bubble and that's normal.
Boil each pretzel in the boiling water for 30 seconds turning once in between. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking tray.Pro tip - The longer you poach the more chewy the crust will be on these pretzels. I suggest no more than 30 seconds.
Wipe the baking tray off any excess moisture. Brush each pretzel with a beaten egg.Pro tip - The excess moisture on the baking tray will create steam. This will bake a crispy crust. If you want a soft crust wipe it dry.
Then, sprinkle your toppings of choice. I am using coarse salt, sesame seeds, and nigella seeds.
Bake in the pretzels for 12 to 15 minutes until golden on top. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Serve with your favorite pretzel sauce. See my favorite recipes in the notes below.
If possible use bread flour, I think it works better than all-purpose four. Easier to handle too
You can make the pretzel dough up to 24 hours in advance. You can shape the pretzel with the chilled dough but then prove them until they are room temperature before you poach them.
If you want the dough to rise quicker than 60 minutes - place the bowl in a warm oven with the light on. This usually takes only 30 minutes for me.
Let the pretzels proof for 30 minutes before you poach them in baking soda. These will ensure the inside is wonderfully light.
The poaching liquid must be boiling when you add the pretzels. Adding salt to the baking soda helps it come to a rolling boil
The pretzels must float on the water, not skin. If they sink it means the water is not hot enough. It's best to wait.
Wipe all excess moisture from the baking pan. This moisture can create steam in the oven when baking. The steam causes the crust to become hard.
Brush the pretzels with egg wash - this will help the toppings stick.
Browning - too much or not enough. You can tent the pretzels to prevent them from getting too brown. Alternatively, If your oven is hot and the pretzels tend to become darker before they are baked next time use only beaten egg white to brush the pretzels. Similarly, if your pretzels are not getting brown enough, you can use only beaten egg yolks to brush
You can prepare the dough a day ahead of time. Keeping pretzel dough overnight enhances its flavor. Bring to room temperature before you shape and water bath.
Pretzel dough can be frozen for up to a month in the freezer.
Baked pretzels will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months
To reheat pretzels, bake frozen pretzels for 20 minutes at 170 C/ 340F
Pretzels dough can be easily made in a bread machine. Pour all ingredients in the pan set to dough or manual. Start and let the dough run its cycle for about 9 to 10 minutes - continue with the recipe as shown above.
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you