We pin things we’d love to try (along with the rest of the known pinning universe) to our Full Fork Ahead Wants Pinterest board quite frequently, and there’s no shortage of yeast-i-fied goodness, such as pretzels. I never was a sweets gal when I was little. No joke, I’d ask for a birthday cake but all I wanted to do was look at the pretty thing. I’d rather eat a soft piece of bread. With a slice of cheese. It wasn’t till later in life that I began to enjoy both the evil necessity of soft breads AND sugary sweets. Oh, age, how you love to play havoc with our taste buds. Why couldn’t I continue to stay away from sweets, hence battling only one evil? Whyyyy? Hence, things like these yummy, sweet pretzels.
This recipe was so fun – and interesting – to make. Fun as in: Oh man, we made soft pretzels chomp nomnomnomnom! Interesting as in: science experiment! KaBOOM. You’ll see what we mean later. And yes, we still have all our eyebrow hairs.
Pretzel dough is much like any yeast-infused dough. It’s got flour, a little water, a sweet activator for the yeast (this time it was light brown sugar) and butter. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, it’s pretty easy to knead some into shape.
A few quick turns by hand, kneading just till it comes together in a smooth ball of dough, is the next step. This takes only a few seconds, really, not even a minute.
The thing I like best about easy bread recipes: it only needs an hour or so to rise and become doubled in volume. Rest up, dough! You’re gonna be deeeelicious.
Divide the risen dough as evenly as possible. We did this scone-like method, cutting the dough into wedges. Really, though, if one section is a little bigger than the next, it’s no biggie.
Next, take each section of dough and roll it out to form about a 22-inch-long rope. This was really easy to do, the dough just seemed to want to go this route. It too knew the glorious goodness that it could be as pretzel bites!
Cut each rope of dough into one-inch pieces. If some are bigger or smaller, again, no biggie! The more uniform one-inch ones will definitely be the most pillow-like in texture and appearance, but this ain’t no pretzel beauty contest.
OK, this is the point at which I hope you’re paying attention, class. I admit I didn’t read the entire source post word for word, so if it was mentioned there, I missed it (and no, we didn’t actually have to take a lot of chemistry back in the day and anyway I’m way past those years). But when you add 2/3 cup of baking soda to rapidly boiling water, it will sort of kind of explode in this frothing mass of Baking Soda Doom. My stove top was almost instantly awash in sudsy baking soda water and it was continuing to froth and bubble like some mad, really bad science experiment. After getting past the initial surprise, and I was again able to approach the pot without fear of baking soda revenge, we realized the baking soda was much more calm when it had some pretzel dough in it. You’ll need to continue keeping a close eye on it, though, as it will keep trying to bubble up and froth over if you leave it too long.
The pretzels, after their scientific baking soda bath, get their first baking session. Yep – first. These things are twice-baked! You must really like pretzels to be doing this.
I admit, I questioned my love after making these. Seriously, there’s a lot of steps.
After their first baking time, each tee-tiny piece is brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I’m not sure why, but ours just didn’t seem to want to accept the cinnamon sugar. It was just rolling off the pieces for the most part. Maybe next time we’ll dunk the things in egg wash and then roll them in the sugar mixture. The cinnamon sugar in a gallon plastic storage part would work great to drop them in and shake it all about.
After the second baking, they achieve that classic browned pretzel color you’re so used to seeing. And I can honestly say JOY WE ARE DONE.
Except we weren’t! We decided we were making a delectable caramel sauce to go with the wee devils! And everyone should run, not walk or dawdle in any way and fly over to this site to make it. I’ve lamented our inability to make many caramel sauces on this blog before, but this really was the most easy one ever. And it. is. heaven. Did you know a spoonful of homemade caramel sauce…or two (or more)…tastes really good late at night? They say it lasts a month in the fridge but I don’t think my share is going to last a week.
After making these, I’ll never look a that pretzel stand with the family-member-esque name in the mall the same way gain. Instead, it will be with a deeper, even more profound appreciation and not a little comradery – I too have made the soft pretzel! We, at Full Fork, too know it’s true glory!
In all seriousness, these take some patience. There’s a lot of steps, a little unexpected science experimenting, baking, baking again, egg wash basting and sugar sprinkling AND caramel-sauce-madness-lickable-ness going on. Whew! It takes a while. But it was worth it. And they really do taste wooonderful. So get to making.
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil
- 3 quarts water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (egg wash)
- 2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
Coat a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or foil and place in a warm , draft-free spot until the dough doubles in size, about one hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring the water to a boil and add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a rope about 22″ long. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches, about 15 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a well-greased baking sheet.
Bake the pretzel bites at 425 for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven and immediately place the pretzel bites on a cooling rack. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle the tops generously with cinnamon sugar. You want to do this over a cooling rack and not on the pan you bake the pretzel bites on or else the sugar will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Then put the pretzel bites back on the first pan and continue baking for an additional 8-10 minutes until golden and cooked through.
We mixed up two batches of the cinnamon sugar when we realized one wouldn’t be quite enough.
These were best the day we made them, and they make a LOT. You might want to have some people handy to send some home with or make ’em for a party. Football season, especially if you forgo the sugar mixture and just sprinkle with coarse sea salt, would be a great time to roll these out.
Be sure to visit the source posts noted above the recipe. All the sites involved are super nice, especially the two blogs. Their pictures and own accounts of making these recipes are not only fun to read, but can offer you even more insight into making your own homemade pretzels. Plus, Two Peas and Their Pod has lots more yummy pretzel recipes.