Pretzels are a regular after school snack in our house and I make a batch every single week. I first made these pretzels after our family European holiday in December 2013 (based on the recipe here). We visited my good friend Carola in Germany, and her husband made some delicious soft pretzels. Every single time I make these, I am reminded not only of our wonderful holiday, but also of a great friendship that started way back in 1988. Our family hosted Carola as an exchange student, and we have remained connected ever since. Not only are we connected, but our parents also became wonderful friends. It is a really special feeling to know that you always have a home on the other side of the world.
And now, how to make these delicious treats for yourself… Start by pre-heating your oven to hot (~210C). I have made the dough using a Thermomix, but you can do the same process by hand. Firstly add 375ml lukewarm water, 1 sachet dry yeast and 1 tbsp brown sugar to the thermomix and mix 2 min/37C/sp 1. I leave the mixture to sit for just a couple of minutes to ensure the yeast is doing its thing – you’ll see the mixture frothing and smell the yeast working.
Next add 660g plain flour, 1/4 cup melted butter and 1 tbsp salt to the yeast mixture. Mix on sp 6 until just combined and then set to knead for about 6 min. The longer you can leave it the better, but I am often impatient and only knead for 3-4 min and found it turns out just fine.
Turn the dough out onto the bench and knead to bring it together into a smooth ball. The mixture should not stick to the bench or your hands at all – if it does, just add a little flour as you knead. Put the dough into a greased bowl (I simply spray with oil), cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 45min – 1 hr, until doubled in size. (Tip: I put mine on the bathroom sink with the ceiling heat lamps on!)
After it has risen, tip the dough back out on the bench and knead quickly just to bring it all back together. Now we need to divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. If your kids ever complain that no-one uses maths in real life, bring them in to help with this step! The way I divide the dough is firstly in half, then each of these in half, then each of these in thirds. Invariably there are some smaller, and some larger pieces, but hey, that gives the kids something to fight over 😉
Now we need to create that distinctive pretzel shape, and it is really easy. Start by rolling a long sausage shape (about 35cm long) horizontally on the bench. Bring the ends up and cross them over. Then bring the right side end up and over and down to the left. Next bring the left side end up and over and down to the right. Just a gentle push will make the ends stick to the rest of the pretzel.
Place them on a tray with enough space between to expand while cooking. I do two trays with six pretzels on each.
The next step is what gives the pretzels its unique texture and really sets it apart from normal bread. Set a large pan of water to boil with about 1/3 cup of bicarb soda. Gently add the pretzels to the boiling water for 30 seconds. I think the first recipe I used said to do them one at a time, but that takes ages and I have found that four at a time works just fine and is much quicker. After 30 seconds, remove the pretzels with a slotted spoon and return to the baking trays (you’ll notice a change in colour and texture).
In a small cup, combine 1 egg yolk with 1 tbsp of water and brush this mixture over each pretzels. This gives them a lovely colour and shine as they cook. Pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown and then place on a rack to cool.
All that is left is to enjoy a delicious pretzel! They are amazing fresh out of the oven with either sweet or savoury fillings. Once cool, I place them in a large freezer bag and pop in the freezer so that they are on hand and fresh for the entire week. The kids can then take them out one at a time as needed and microwave on high for about 20 secs to defrost.
I hope you are inspired to give these a go, and if you do, please comment below and let me know how they turned out.
- 1 packet dried yeast
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 370 ml warm water
- 660 g plain flour (4 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 L water
- 2/3 cups bicarb soda
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp water
Add water, yeast and sugar in bowl to combine. Stand for 5 min or until mixture becomes frothy/bubbly. (Thermomix: 2 min, 37C; sp 1)
Add flour, melted butter and salt then mix to combine (Thermomix: sp 5 20 sec).
Knead for 5-10 minutes (Thermomix: knead 4-6 min).
Place dough in oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (approx 45 min).
Preheat oven to 220C.
In a large saucepan, add bicarb to water and bring to a boil.
Turn dough out onto work surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll dough into a long log and then form into pretzel shape and place onto a baking tray.
Place each pretzel into the boiling water for 30 sec then return to tray and brush with combined egg yolk and water
Bake for 10-15min until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!