For our German Oktoberfest celebration I wanted chewy, soft Bavarian pretzels. Not surprisingly, no bakery in the Valley carries such a thing (you’re shocked, I know). What a great excuse to bake pretzels from scratch.
Truth be told, I’ve never made soft pretzels that included the ‘boiling’ step. What I had read convinced me that this is a necessary step for a better finished product. Now by first hand experience I’m all the more convinced.
Soft Pretzels (German or Bavarian style)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 to 3 cups all-purpose unbleached (or bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
4 T baking soda
1 cup warm (110 degrees) milk
1 cup of milk poured into a glass measuring cup and placed in the microwave for 1 minute produces 110 degree milk. Who would’ve known?
Combine all of the ingredients except the baking soda in a bowl and mix together until it forms a ball. Start with 2 cups of the flour and mix it together until it forms something like a thick batter. Add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until it forms a nice ball that pulls away from the side of the bowl.
As it turns out, I forgot the brown sugar. I did the ferment step and did not have any trouble with it rising. It also did not seem to have an impact on the flavor as the pretzels were spectacular.
With an electric mixer, mix the dough for 5 minutes. (This could be kneaded by hand for 5-10 minutes)
Letting the dough ferment can give the pretzels a little extra flavor, but it can be skipped and they will still taste great. If you are going to ferment the dough,
Place the ball of dough to a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately an hour.
Punch down dough and divide into 6 pieces.
Preheat oven 425 degrees.
Fill a wide and shallow pan (I used a glass 9x13 pan) with water, add 4 T of baking soda and and bring to a simmer. The water should be deep enough so that a pretzel can be fully submerged.
At this point, Luke’s recipe says: Roll each one into a short log, cover with a towel, and let the dough relax for 5 to 10 minutes. I skipped this part and didn’t seem to have any ill effects. The dough was plenty stretchy and rolled and twisted easily.
Shape the pretzels with a twist.
It seems that this recipe would also make a tasty pretzel roll or pretzel bun. To do so, simply shape the dough into a bun instead of rolling into a long and shaping.
After shaping the pretzel, carefully transfer it to the boiling water. Dunk it in the water, completely submerging it, for 5 seconds. The pretzel should begin to float towards the end.
I went for the floating and had some pretzels that we submerged for closer to 10 seconds.
Transfer the pretzel onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet.
I used parchment, Luke used a silicone mat.
OIL the paper.
Trust me on this … oil the paper if you don’t want little pieces of paper stuck to the back of the pretzel once it comes out of the oven.
Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
Place the cookie sheet in the middle rack of the pre-heated oven.
Bake the pretzels for 12-14 minutes until they are a dark golden brown.
These pretzels were beautiful, soft, chewy, and had great flavor. We enjoyed them thoroughly and will make them again very soon.