The perfect pretzels

Soft pretzels are a favourite snack in America and you rarely see freshly baked pretzels in New Zealand which is a shame as they are the perfect savoury snack or meal. Serve with butter, sausages, cured meat and mustard, or just a large, cold beer.

(Makes 10)

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups lukewarm warm water
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
  • 3 and ¾  – 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Baking soda bath

Baking soda bath. While it sounds strange, this step is what gives pretzels that iconic flavour, golden brown texture, and super soft interior.

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 9 cups water

Method:

Whisk the yeast into warm water. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Whisk in salt, brown sugar, and melted butter. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon (or dough hook attached to stand mixer) until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more, as needed. Poke the dough with your finger – if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Cover lightly with a towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, get the water + baking soda boiling as instructed further down)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 1/3 cup sections.

Roll the dough into a 20-22 inch sausage. Take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape.

Bring baking soda and 9 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Drop 1-2 pretzels into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste. Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off.

Place pretzel onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with coarse sea salt. Repeat with remaining pretzels.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Pretzels may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days.