Everything Soft Pretzels

Did you know February is National Snack Food Month? Its true.  And did you know that I am the (self-proclaimed) Queen of Snacks? It is in veritas.*

*Wanton use of Latin proves either my royalty or the fact that I’m a homeschooling mom.

I think this calls for a serious application of my snack food bonafides. (MORE LATIN!) There is no better way to kick off National Snack Food Month than with the King of All Snack Food (no relation): SOFT PRETZELS! Clearly, I’m excited here. I’m so excited I’m all capsy. Or should I say, I’M ALL CAPSY!? And exclamation marky?!?!! I’m sorry. Snack food thrills me.

Soft pretzels are one of my all-time favourite foods. On any given day at any given time any given person could walk up to me and say, “Would you like a soft pretzel?” and I would, in all likelihood, say, “Yes, please, stranger. I will eat this glorious soft pretzel you have offered to me.” (Because I’m also queeny and perpetually hungry.) I do not turn down soft pretzels.

Plain old (pshaw, plain?) soft pretzels are always acceptable and delicious, however…

…As Queen of Snacks, I feel obliged to kick off this best of months with something extra spectacular, and so, I give you: The Everything Bagel Soft Pretzel. Oh yes.

Sidebar: If anything comes close to the magical, mystical soft pretzel in the hierarchy of my snack food affection, it is most definitely the everything bagel. I love pop and crackle of the garlic flakes, onion flakes, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and coarse salt on top of the chewy brown bread in each bite. Cream cheese is not negotiable. It’d better be on there and thick, I tell you. End sidebar.

Bonus Sidebar/Confession: Every single time I attempt to type “poppy seeds” (including the one immediately preceding this parenthetical reference) I accidentally type “poopy”. Also in veritas. More Latin. End bonus sidebar.

How good are these? Let me paint you a picture… You open the oven and a blast of the scent of hot, freshly baked bread mingled with toasted garlic and onion hits you. The tray is full of deep, glossy brown soft pretzels topped with a crusty layer of garlic and onion bits, poppy and sesame seeds and crunchy salt. You force yourself to wait five minutes so you don’t burn off a layer of skin from the inside of your mouth. You smear cold cream cheese on the pretzel and some seeds and bits fall away. You don’t want to waste any of it so you touch the side of the cream cheese coated knife to them and glance around you. No one’s looking so you carefully eat it from the knife. But then you sink your teeth into that pretzel.  The cream cheese is still mostly cold, but has started melting just a bit where it is sitting on the warm pretzel. Crackle, pop, BAM, mmmmmm. This is everything a snack food should be. EVERYTHING. It’s not just an everything bagel topping pretzel it is the EVERYTHING PRETZEL.

I’m off to go rest my capsy fingers and eat another pretzel, but first, a royal poll question: What’s your favourite snack food ever? Do you tend to like savoury or sweet snacks better?

Now off with you. I declare that you shall make these Everything Pretzels and eat them.

Everything Pretzels

Everything Pretzels

Deep, glossy brown soft pretzels topped with a crusty layer of garlic and onion bits, poppy and sesame seeds and crunchy salt like an everything bagel. Served warm with cold cream cheese, there is, quite simply, nothing better. What a way to kick of National Snack Food Month!

Important Note: If you do not have teflon or silicone sheets for your baking pans, be sure to generously spray them with non-stick cooking spray (even if you use parchment paper) as the pretzels WILL stick otherwise.

Ingredients

    Ingredients for dough:
  • 4 cups (1 pound 1 ounce, by weight) bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder (preferably) or sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup hot tap water
  • 2 teaspoons SAF or instant yeast
  • Ingredients for pretzel boil:
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • Ingredients for toppings:
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 2 tablespoons dried garlic flakes
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pretzel salt or coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 egg, whisked until evenly coloured

Instructions

To Make the Dough by Hand:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, malt powder or sugar and yeast. Set the whisk aside and switch to a sturdy wooden spoon. Stir in the milk and tap water until a soft dough forms. Turn onto a generously floured surface and knead, adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep the dough from adhering to the counter. You do not want a firm dough… it should be fairly slack, a little tacky and soft, yet smooth. Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in bulk and puffy, about an hour or so.

To Make the Dough by Stand Mixer:

In the work-bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, salt, malt powder or sugar and yeast. Mix on low just to combine dry ingredients. With mixer still on low, carefully pour in the milk and water. Continue mixing on low until you have a smooth, soft, slightly tacky dough. Remove bowl from the mixer, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in bulk and puffy, about an hour or so.

To Make the Dough by Bread Machine:

Add the milk, water, flour, malt powder or sugar, and yeast to the pan of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the “Dough” or “Dough Only” cycle and hit start. Allow the cycle to complete.

To Form the Pretzels:

Line three 11×13-inch baking sheets with silicone or teflon pan liners. Set next to your work area.

Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface.

For Traditional Pretzel Shapes:

Use a bench knife to cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece like play-dough until you have a snake of dough about the circumference of a Kindergarten pencil (or your index finger.) Lay the snake of dough in a u-shape. Twist the two ends together twice, keeping the base of the "u" open, then fold the twisted ends down onto the base of the "u" and gently press in place. Transfer the pretzels onto the lined baking sheets, being sure to leave generous amounts of room between them. They will expand both as they rise and again as they boil and bake. When you have dealt with all the dough, cover the pans with tea towels and let them rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffy looking, about 20 minutes.

To Form Easier Pretzel Rods:

Use a bench knife to cut the dough into 22 equal pieces. Roll each piece like play-dough until you have a snake of dough about the circumference of a Kindergarten pencil (or your index finger.) Transfer the pretzels onto the lined baking sheets, being sure to leave generous amounts of room between them. They will expand both as they rise and again as they boil and bake. When you have dealt with all the dough, cover the pans with tea towels and let them rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffy looking, about 20 minutes.

To Cook the Pretzels:

Mix all the topping ingredients together with a fork except for the egg. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a stainless steel or other non-reactive pan (enameled cast-iron, tempered glass, etc…) When water boils, add the baking soda. Gently lift the pretzels or pretzel rods one at a time into the boiling water. (You can boil more than one at a time, but be sure not to crowd the the pan as they will expand as they boil. Let simmer for about 45 seconds, flip the pieces and simmer for another 45 seconds-1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to drain and return each piece to its place on the pan. Continue until all pieces have been boiled and returned to the pan.

Brush all pieces of dough with the beaten and sprinkle the topping mixture. Place pans in oven and bake at least until golden brown (at least 18 minutes), but you can bake until they are deep brown which is my preference (closer to 22-24 minutes in my oven.)

Let stand for at least 5 minutes before eating. These are best enjoyed warm, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days. They can be quickly reheated prior to serving.

http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2012/02/02/everything-soft-pretzels/

P.S. Need help finding any of the seeds or flakes called for in this recipe? Go to the “Other Goodies” section of our Books, Gears and Supplies store.

Comments

  1. says

    These look fantastic; I look forward to making them. Two questions: If you make the dough by hand, about how long do you knead it? And is there any stage at which you can freeze them?

    • says

      Those are both awesome questions, Nancy. In answer to your first, about 10 minutes or until your dough is smooth and elastic. And your second question makes me super happy because, well, I won’t do spoilers, but check in here over the weekend and on Monday. But specifically? Yes. There are a couple stages where you could freeze this.
      Option 1: After shaping and before the second rise you can stick them in the freezer on the prepared trays. When they’re frozen solid, transfer to a freezer bag. To bake, remove from freezer, put back on prepared pans, cover with plastic wrap and let thaw and rise at room temperature until puffy looking. Proceed with directions in recipe above.
      Option 2: To bake all the way and freeze second (so that all that is left to do is to reheat) omit the salt from the seed/flake topping and boil/bake as directed. Cool completely on racks, put on a baking sheet and freeze, then individually wrap each pretzel in plastic wrap and put *those* in a large freezer bag. To reheat, unwrap as many pretzels as you’d like, brush lightly with water, sprinkle with kosher/sea/pretzel salt and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 5-15 minutes (depending on the size pretzels you made) or until heated through. TADA!
      That was wordy, but I hope it helped. And THANK YOU for asking such awesome questions. Clearly, I have not become un-capsy yet. :-)

  2. says

    Soft pretzels are one of my ALL-TIME favorite snack foods! I get a little capsy just thinking about them, too. My boys staged a soft pretzel throw-down a few weeks ago as part of a food science lesson we did for homeschool. Your end result looks much more sapidus.

    • says

      MORE LATIN! Or should I say “BONUS LATIN”. Oh boy. Homeschool double Latin humour. I’d better stop while I’m ahead. A soft pretzel throwdown sounds like a great idea. Did you eek some ph lessons in there?

  3. says

    Thanks for the freezing tips, for those of us who need those sorts of things. My legs are tensed up in that Iwantthissobadlyrightnow feeling. You know. ;)

  4. Kimberly :) says

    I tried to read the other comments but my brain was busy trying to process your question so I couldn’t focus. What is my favorite snack? This question needs to be answered. I’m not afraid to snack; I don’t need a special occasion. It’s not like answers weren’t popping into my head. But what’s my favorite? I regularly eat snacks for every meal when my husband is out of town. (yes, guacamole and chips for breakfast, chicken salad and wheat thins for lunch, pimiento cheese and fritos for dinner…) But what makes me get in the car and drive to the store just to buy a snack after I’ve had a rough day and really just want to watch an entire season of Modern Family in my jammies? Ranch dip with minced clams and cheesy Ruffles. This fixes broken hearts, it makes any sadness tolerable, it works even better than ice cream. I feel better because this is settled. Now there’s proof; your blog provides answers to life’s hard questions. Thank you, mighty Queen of Snacks.

    • says

      I have a tendency to do the same thing when my hubby is traveling. The guacamole for breakfast I’ve done more times than I can count. :-) Here’s a question… have you ever put Doritos on sandwiches? That’s one of my favourites.

  5. says

    Rebecca, these are absolutely beautiful! They’re so elegantly rustic, and must make the kitchen smell amazing as they’re baking up. I’m a chronic snacker, too, and love the crispy ‘everything’ pretzels, but this chewy homemade version can’t be beat, I’m certain.

  6. says

    Rebecca, thanks for your tips on hand-kneading and freezing. I made a full batch and froze half. The freshly baked ones we ate tonight (with chicken-black bean chili) were terrific. Great texture, perfect flavor. I’ll let you know how the frozen ones turn out. Thanks for a fantastic recipe.

  7. Gigi says

    I just came across your fantastically, informative, and histerical site… meaning, I can’t decide where to begin, and your blogs are really funny….. I can relate to much of what you say… Besides that, I also am a major food junkie, eating as well as cooking and baking, more so the latter. I think I got your website from Ree Drummonds , as she lists you as among her favorites, which I can see your site becoming one of mine… OK, I’m off to begin… where—- No one knows….likely, anywhere among the BREADS!! Hahahaha !!…. Keep it all coming girl :o)

  8. says

    Rebecca, I made these the day you posted them, and froze half the batch. The first pretzels were terrific. The second (frozen) pretzels were equally as good. I topped half the second batch with some good grated parmesan instead of the Everything topping (we live in Wisconsin, so we’re serious cheese addicts). We loved both equally. This definitely qualifies for Make-Ahead Mondays.

  9. Tabitha says

    I have become so very addicted to your blog. I have a weakness (or two) that the man in my life is very much aware of and if there is a soft pretzel in the vicinity he laughs while I unintentionally whimper because I WANT IT.
    What is it about them?! So when I first discovered your blog and started reading recipes and repeatedly gasped, oooh’ed and aahhhh’ed he knew he was in for something good. We ate an alarming number of pretzel wrapped smoked sausages. Truly alarming. They were delicious! And amazing! And since it’s been a few weeks i’m making them again tomorrow!
    Apparently this capsy and exclamation pointy thing is common among the soft-pretzel-snack-food crowd and I feel that I am in truly great company!! :)
    Thank you for sharing culinary inspiration that makes me feel like I made a new friend!

  10. Carol Zumalt says

    Rebecca, I stumbled across your website just today. So glad I did. I have added you to my favorites list.
    Love the lemon cupcake idea & the pretzels. I have two trees full of lemons & like to use them as much as I can. No sense letting them go to waste. I will be trying the pretzels soon. Thank you! Carol

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Everything Soft Pretzels from Foodie with Family.  I have never made pretzels before.  Sure I could just get a box of frozens and sprinkle on some love and pretend, but I’m really interested in seeing if I can do this.  Will be requiring a dough hook though for the Kitchen Aid (one of my favorite presents of all time – thanks, Brother who says he never reads this but probably secretly does and loves it and Sister-in-Law that does!)….because I am not interested in rolling and kneading and whatnot by hand.  Thank you, Bed Bath & Beyond, for sending me countless 20% off coupons.  And for never letting them truly expire.  You’re a gem. [...]

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