Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soft Pretzels

This month, Food Network Magazine is featuring a spread of recipes for soft pretzels. I jumped at this one, and made them that same afternoon. There are various ways to stuff the pretzels (pepperoni, pesto, cheese, etc.), and several ways to top the pretzels (brown sugar, traditional salt, etc.). I chose to go the "everything" route. Think "everything bagel - pretzel style."

I have realized something about myself, as I have be honing my skills as a culinary artist. When it comes to detail, I am not the most attentive. When a recipe calls for shaping, rolling, or cutting dough, mine always seems to come out lopsided, broken, uneven, or just... funky. Take these pretzels, for instance. Each one is a different size and shape. Some of them have little pieces missing, and some of them have clearly been broken and reattached. Some of the little nubs are teeny tiny, while some are thick and doughy. So, basically, these look a tad mishmoshed, but that's okay. As my mom says, "That's what makes them look homemade." Okay... I crave perfection in my baked goods, but I guess it's not really in the cards.

Anyway, this recipe creates a delicious pretzel, but frankly,

Soft Pretzels


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • Assorted fillings, optional
  • Coarse salt or other toppings


Mix 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F), the yeast and agave in a bowl. Set aside 5 minutes.

In a food processor fitted with the dough blade, pulse the whole-wheat flour, 2 cups all-purpose flour and the sea salt. Add 1 egg and the yeast mixture and pulse in 10-second intervals until the dough comes together, about 3 pulses. Turn out onto a floured board. Knead 10 to 12 times, adding up to 3/4 cup more flour if the dough is too sticky. Cut the dough into 4 equal portions; cover with a clean towel.

On a floured board, roll out one piece of dough into a 14-by-11-inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick, with a shorter side facing you.

To make plain pretzels, cut the dough rectangle into seven 11-by-2-inch strips. For stuffed pretzels, follow the filling instructions, then cut into strips.

One at a time, pinch the cut long edges of each strip together and roll into a 12-inch rope with your hands. Transfer the rope to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Grab the ends and bring them toward each other, forming a U shape, then cross the left end over the right end to make a pretzel shape. Cross the left end over the right again to make a twist in the middle. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the pretzels 3 inches apart. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes; preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Beat the remaining egg in a bowl. Brush the pretzels with the egg; sprinkle with salt or other toppings. Bake until browned, 16 to 18 minutes.

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