Delicious Homemade Pretzels and Pretzel Nuggets
Living in NYC I love to walk in Central Park and eat a big, hot salty pretzel. Soft pretzels are sold by street vendors all over the city and are best eaten hot with lots of mustard. The pretzel was originally created in Germany by a Monk around 610 A.D. They were called ‘pretiola’ which translates to ‘little reward’. The monk would give the pretiola to children as a reward for learning their prayers. The twisted shape of the pretzel is meant to resemble a child’s arms crossed in prayer.
I have spent a lot of time perfecting a recipe for homemade soft pretzels at home. The dough comes together very quickly but does require a rise of about an hour in order to create a pretzel with the right texture and consistency. I like to make these pretzels with my daughter Olivia. It is a lot of fun to roll out the dough and shape them into pretzels. It is essential to boil the pretzel for 30 seconds in water and baking soda before baking them in the oven. This step is what creates the slightly chewy texture to the soft pretzel and prepares the outside to crisp up in the oven. Please note that you should add the baking soda to the water first and then bring it to a boil. Adding the baking soda to boiling water will cause the water to boil over and will make a mess. Trust me on this one, it’s not pretty. After boiling the pretzels, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and allow to dry for a few minutes before brushing with egg wash and sprinkling on pretzel salt. You can make the dough into pretzel shape or nuggets, both work well. It is important not to crowd the pretzels when boiling them. I only boil one or two at a time. Also, do not boil them for more than 30 seconds. Boiling the pretzel for too long will alter the taste because of the baking soda. These pretzels are best eaten fresh out of the oven while they are still warm. You will have freshly baked pretzels that are absolutely addicting. You can wrap them in foil and place in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat the pretzels in a 350 oven. They will be good but they will not be as good as when you eat them the same day
Can I top my pretzels with other toppings?
Yes, you can top the pretzels with a variety of toppings, savory and sweet. I like to use pretzel salt on some and everything seasoning on the rest. You need to buy pretzel salt which is a specialized salt. It is not the same as coarse salt. Pretzel salt is white and has less sodium than coarse salt. You can also sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the pretzels when they are almost done baking so that the cheese melts on the pretzel. If you would like to make the pretzels a little sweet I would add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the dough and sprinkle the pretzels with cinnamon and sugar when they are half way through baking. You can serve the sweeter pretzels with chocolate and caramel dipping sauce.
- 1½ cups milk warm not boiling
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 4½ cups flour
- 2¼ tsp instant yeast OR 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 egg beaten and mixed with 2 tbsp water
- pretzel salt for sprinkling over pretzels
- 9 cups water
- ½ cup baking soda
- mix flour and instant yeast together
- place warm milk, sugar and salt in a mixer fitted with dough hook
- slowly add flour and mix
- add melted butter and continue to mix until dough comes together
- take dough out of bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface until elastic and smooth. about 5 minutes.
- place dough in a mixing bowl that has been greased with vegetable oil
- rub top of dough with a little oil, cover with a dish towel and place in warm place for 1 hour
- preheat oven to 400
- add ½ cup baking soda to 9 cups of water and bring to a boil
- cut dough into 12 pieces
- roll each piece into a long rod around 16 inches long
- form into a pretzel shape press ends into pretzel. Or cut into 1 inch nuggets.
- Boil one or two at a time for 30 seconds
- place on a parchement lines sheet.
- Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with pretzel salt or everything seasoning
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. (8-10 for nuggets)