Memories of Meals Past: Homemade Soft Pretzels

Pretzels! Nummy, nummy pretzels!

Pretzels! Nummy, nummy pretzels!

Every now and then some recipe comes across my facebook feed that I really want try. In this case, it was a post by The Artful Parent that talked about the soft pretzels that she made with her daughter. They used Alton Brown’s pretzel recipe and raved about it so much that I had to try it myself. So I did!

I’m calling it a Memory of Meals Past post, as I’m posting it on a Thursday, and it’s not an original recipe from me, nor a bake-a-long recipe. Not strictly a Memory of Meals Past, given that I made it today, but…hey, it’s a Thursday, and I’m linking to a recipe as opposed to writing up a new one, so good enough!

The traditional brown colour of the baked pretzel is achieved by doing a number of things: once the dough is made and you’ve twisted it into a pretzel shape, you boil the unbaked pretzels in a baking soda and water bath for half a minute. Then you place them on a baking sheet and brush them with an egg yolk and water mixture, then bake until they’ve achieved that deep golden brown colour.

Baking soda bath!

Baking soda bath!

The baking soda and water bath sort of blanches the dough, if you will, so that when it bakes up, the outer (blanched) crust has to crack to let the dough expand. This creates those cracks in the deep brown texture that you often see in the professionally made pretzels.

How many whisks up would I give this recipe? Three and a half. Maaaaybe four. (I’m a tough critic, I think. Especially given that I’m criticizing a recipe from that famous, professional chef, Alton Brown! But I promised myself when I started this blog, that I’d always be honest, so this is what I truly think. Even if I’m wrong.)

Here’s why:

  • I had to add at least half a cup of water to the dough in order to get it to be as pliable as Alton says it should be.
  • Also, the baking soda bath should have been longer that the recommended 30 seconds, in order to get those traditional and professional-style cracks that I mentioned above.
Post boiling, and pre baking.

Post boiling, and pre baking.

What I did wrong and what I’ll change next time:

  • I admit it, I under-baked the dough by 2-4 minutes, according to Alton’s recipe. I generally under-bake, because I find most recipes call for a crustier whatever-it-is than I like. In this case, I probably should have at least baked the pretzels for 12 minutes as opposed to 10. Mea culpa!
  • Next time I make this recipe, I plan to boil the pretzels for at LEAST a minute, to see if that makes any difference to the crust. Will it make it browner? Or just more crack-y? (What? It’s a word!)
  • I’ll also use official pretzel salt. I only used standard size sea salt this time, and I think pretzel salt would definitely add a nice bit of texture.

The recipe makes for an easy and tasty dough, but if you make it, I recommend making the changes I outlined above. Or don’t, and let me know whether it was just me! I’ve packed some for the DH and I for lunches tomorrow. Now to figure out some delicious dipping sauces! Hmm…any ideas?

Next Post: Probably a salad post. Because IBS.

6 thoughts on “Memories of Meals Past: Homemade Soft Pretzels

    1. Margaret Post author

      There’s some cooling on the counter still! Come on over! I plan to toast one for lunch tomorrow in a toaster oven at work. Maybe browning them a little more will bring out some additional ‘pretzel’ flavour!

      Reply
    1. Margaret Post author

      Under-bakers of the world unite! I always, always, always underbake. I prefer chewier cookies and brownies and such. It might just be the ovens that I use and the elevation that I’m at, but it really works for me!

      Reply

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