Now I’m taking you waaaaay back to my junior high days when I had my first “baking class.” This was where I learned to measure flour by scooping and using a knife to level, how to properly add yeast to warm water, and how to knead dough. I am a hands-on learner, and the reason I remember this class so fondly is because we learned by doing. One of my favorite recipes from that class was a soft pretzel recipe. I was so excited about my results from the pretzels that I made them many times for my family, especially in the Fall during Football season. This time around, I thought I’d play with a few different flours to see if it made a difference in the texture of the pretzels, and boy did it ever!
I tried three different flours, King Arthur 00 Pizza Flour, Trader Joe’s Flour, and Gold Medal All Purpose Flour. The dough for each of them rose the same, but I could tell when I started rolling the dough to make the pretzels that there was a difference in the dough elasticity. I personally like my soft pretzels to be a little chewy and for the bread to pull apart. I also like the flavor of the yeast to compliment the dough. For the price and texture, I found the Trader Joe’s flour to be the best. The King Arthur pretzels did create a more rustic looking pretzel though… as seen below.
The king Arthur dough rolled out and didn’t have much elasticity. Whereas the Trader Joe’s dough rolled out and bounced back quite a bit. So just note that as you are rolling out the dough, you may have to stretch it back out. I have a feeling that the elasticity is what causes the baked pretzel to have a more chewy texture. So if you are want the dough to have that soft feel as it pulls apart, then go with the Trader Joe’s version. If you are wanting a more rustic bread feel, then go with the King Arthur. One may not be better than the other in this case… it’s just whatever your preference is.
These pretzels come together pretty quickly. You do need to give the dough some time to rise, but it’s totally worth it. There’s nothing more delightful than a warm pretzel straight out of the oven. Believe me when I tell you, you might want to make two batches of these for your family because they will fight over them. This recipe makes about 6 pretzels (and they are not the large ones you get at the movie theater). These are about 4-5″ wide by about 3″ tall. They make a great addition to dinner or as a sports fanatic snack with some yummy cheese or mustard dip! I also love making little ham and cheese melt sandwiches out of these!!!
To shape the pretzels, you just roll a piece of the dough to 1 foot long. Loop one end over the other. To give them a wonderful glow, brush them with a beaten egg and then sprinkle them with coarse salt. They bake in about 12 minutes and smell amazing when they come out of the oven fresh!
As I mentioned, the flour does seem to make a difference. If you like the chewy texture of a soft pretzel, then give the Trader Joe’s or Gold Medal flour a try. The pretzels can be stored in an airtight container for a few days and reheated in a toaster oven if you like them warm! But if your family is anything like mine, all of the pretzels will be devoured the moment they come out of the oven!
Here’s the recipe:
Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe
1 pkg Rapid Rise Yeast
1 1/2 cup Flour
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 egg beaten (to brush on before baking)
Place all dry ingredients into a bowl.
Heat 3/4 cup water until hot to touch. (I get the water to just start boiling and then turn it off and let it cool for about a minute).
Stir the warmed water into the dry ingredients.
Use your hands to work the dough until it’s soft and firm but not sticky. Add 1 Tbsp of flour if it’s too sticky.
Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 4-5 minutes. Shape the dough into a loose ball.
Grease a bowl with a little oil and place the ball of dough into the bowl and then turn the dough once (so the top of the dough now has some oil on it to keep it from drying out). Let rise for 30 min to an hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Break the dough into 6 equal parts. Roll each piece about 1 foot long. Loop each piece into the shape of a pretzel and put on a greased cookie sheet.
Brush each pretzel with a beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Check them starting at 10 minutes.
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