If you're looking for an easy recipe for traditional soft pretzels then this is exactly what you need! These pretzels are soft inside, golden brown on the outside and topped with rock salt. Much easier to make than you might think and a really tasty alternative to a bread roll!
A few years ago I was inspired to make these traditional soft pretzels by The Great British Bake Off. I had wanted to make pretzels for a long time but it was watching the show and Paul Hollywood that really gave me the motivation I needed!
The timing was perfect as I knew I had some flavoured salts siting in my cupboard. I don't use a lot of salt in my cooking but pretzels need salt! And I really wanted to try out these salts too. The pretzels I'd been thinking of making for so long suddenly became something I really had to make.
Is making soft Pretzels the same as making bread?
Soft pretzels are a kind of bread. The dough is very similar but the way they are cooked is different. I used a bread maker to make the dough as it's so much easier and reduces the hands on time. However, you can knead the dough by hand instead and I'll give instructions how in a moment.
The difference in the way pretzels are cooked is that they are dropped into boiling water for a short time before being baked.
Why are pretzels boiled and then baked?
The reason why the pretzels are boiled first is that it hardens the surface of the dough. This prevents the dough from rising as much in the oven and means they keep their distinctive pretzel shape. They are only in the water for about 5 seconds but it's enough to change the way they behave in the oven.
How to make the pretzel dough without a bread maker
If you don't have a bread maker, don't worry. You can use exactly the same soft pretzel recipe to make the pretzels by hand.
- Dissolve the sugar in the milk.
- Put the flour, yeast, salt and butter into a bowl.
- Stir the milk in to make a dough.
- Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes.
- Put it in a bowl to rise for 45 minutes.
- Follow the instructions in the recipe card below for the next steps.
Are pretzels the only bread that you boil?
As well as pretzels, bagels are also boiled before being baked. They are boiled for the same reason which is why they are denser than most breads and have that lovely slightly chewy crust
I hadn't make pretzels before or any bread that involves boiling first. But, I was pleased by how easy they were to make and also by how well they turned out. Maybe I'll be having a go at bagels soon!
Why do you put bicarbonate of soda in the water the pretzels are boiled in?
The bicarbonate of soda helps the pretzels to brown once they are in the oven and gives them that golden colour.
What kind of salt do you use on pretzels?
You can use edible rock salt or coarse sea salt. I used flavoured rock salts but I couldn't really taste the individual flavours that were in them. They did look pretty on the pretzels though!
How can you store soft pretzels?
These soft pretzels are at their best if you eat them freshly baked. They will last for one more day in an airtight container though. If you want to refresh them a little then sprinkle them with water and bake them again in the oven for 5 minutes to warm them through.
If you make a big batch and know you can't eat all of them then freeze them as soon as they have cooled completely. Just put them in an airtight container and they will keep well for a month. I like to reheat them in the oven from frozen for 10 minutes.
Traditional Soft Pretzels Recipe
The pretzel recipe is adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe and can be found on BBC Food.
Traditional Soft Pretzel Recipe
- 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
- 280 ml milk
- 500 g strong white flour
- 7 g instant yeast
- 10 g salt
- 40 g butter softened
- 21 g bicarbonate of soda
- 20 g coarse sea salt or edible rock salt
- Put the yeast, flour, salt, brown sugar and milk into the bread maker and set it to the dough setting but if you don't have a bread maker then follow the instructions here.
- Put the oven on at 200C. Cut the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each one between your fingers until it reaches a length of about 40cm.
- To make the dough into pretzel shapes, make a U shape then bring each end into the middle, cross them over each other and press them into the side of the U. You should then get a pretzel shape with 3 holes.
- Bring a large pan containing 7 liters of water to the boil. Add the bicarbonate of soda and then add the pretzels, one at a time for 5 seconds each.
- Sprinkle a little salt on the top of each pretzel. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and eat on the same day.
More Bread Recipes you Might Like
I love making bread although I don't make it as often as I'd like. Why not check out one of these recipes:
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Places I've shared these traditional Pretzels
I am linking these to Bake of the Week at Casa Costello.