What's better than a warm, chewy, salty pretzel? One that you made yourself! Come learn the secret technique that makes a pretzel unique from Rhodes blogger Stacie. Click here to read ...
As the story goes, the pretzel dates back to 600 AD when a monk somewhere in France or Italy was playing around with leftover dough from the daily baking. While playing, he came up with a unique twist that looked like arms crossed in prayer. The warm doughy treat was offered to children who had memorized their bible verses and prayers. The monks called it a Pretiola, Latin for ‘little reward’.
Today, the center of pretzel history in America still resides in Pennsylvania where the first commercial bakery was founded in the small town of Lititz in 1861. They come in all shapes and sizes and flavors and are still one of America's most popular snacks.
Now that you’ve had your history lesson, let’s make some pretzels!
For each pretzel you need one Rhodes Texas roll, or two dinner rolls combined. Let your rolls thaw until they are soft but not starting to rise. Roll the dough into a long rope. The recipe says 18 inches, but I had an easier time forming the pretzel shape when it was about 24 inches long. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to get your dough to that length. Start by forming the roll into a little log.
Then start in the middle of the log and move your hands outward while pulling, stretching and rolling the dough as evenly as possible. Sounds easy, right?
After your dough is an 18-24” long “snake”, as my daughter calls them, bring the ends up to form a U. Then simply cross one end over and bring it to the bottom of the U, and repeat with the other side. If you want to get a little fancier, you can twist the two ends before fastening them to the bottom. It may help to wet the dough just a little bit where you’re attaching it to help it stay in place.
Now place your pretzels on a sprayed baking sheet, cover with sprayed plastic wrap, and let them rise for about 30-45 minutes. While you’re waiting for them to rise, you can decide what yummy things you’re going to top your pretzels with.
Here they are all risen and ready for the next step.
Now bring 6 inches of water to a boil and add baking soda. In my pan I used about 4 cups of water and 1½ tablespoons of baking soda. “Uh, we’re going to boil our dough?” you may be asking. Yes. And there’s an interesting reason behind this. Boiling the pretzel dough before baking causes the surface starch to gelatinize into a thin transparent coating that produces a glossy brown crust when baked. If you don’t boil, you’ll lose out on the chewiness you’d expect from a pretzel…and that would just be sad, now wouldn’t it?
OK, why the baking soda? The baking soda is what gives the pretzels their brown and shiny crust and their distinctive flavor. Remember the acid-base scale from back in your high school chemistry classes? Well, water alone is typically pretty neutral. But when you add baking soda? It moves way over to the alkaline or basic side of the scale. The alkali solution is what causes the crust to brown so deeply. That way we get the deep brown crust without overcooking the interior. That’s enough chemistry for one day, don’t you think?
So, place your pretzels in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. I just brought the water up over the pretzels and gave them a nice little bath. If you have a big enough pan, you can do 2 or 3 at the same time. *Tip: Do not boil the pretzels for too long or it turns into a mushy mess. What? Noooo… I did not learn that from experience. ;)
Remove the pretzels from the water with a slotted spoon and let them cool and drain on a cooling rack.
After some cooling, place the pretzels back on the sprayed baking sheet, and now you’re going to add your toppings. The possibilities are endless here people! Seeds, spices, cheeses, or of course, salt. Whatever you’re little heart desires. I sprinkled this batch with cinnamon sugar. If your pretzels are still a little moist when adding your toppings, the toppings will probably stick just fine. Otherwise, you may want to brush on some melted butter, olive oil, or egg wash to help with the ‘topping adhesion’. Do you like that term? I just made it up.
Now bake them at 350° F for 15 -20 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Just look at those! Oh. Yum.
Here are my two youngest enjoying the chewy, cinnamon-y goodness.
Now we haven’t even tackled the topic of dipping sauces. With the cinnamon sugar pretzels a little cream cheese frosting would be heaven. With the traditional salted pretzels, choose your favorite cheese dip or mustard. But whatever you do, take some time to try your own version of what is still one of America’s favorite snacks!
Soft PretzelsServings: 8 | Skills: Beginning | Prep Time: 20 min (not including thaw time) | Bake Time: 15-20 min
Make these popular soft pretzels at home for the whole family to enjoy!Soft Pretzels
16 Rhodes Yeast Dinner Rolls, or 8 Rhodes Texas Rolls, thawed but still cold
1 tablespoon baking soda
Roll 2 dinner rolls combined or one Texas roll into a 16-inch rope. Form into a pretzel shape. Repeat with remaining rolls and place on large sprayed baking sheets.
Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise 30-45 minutes. In a large saucepan, bring 6-inches of water with 1 tablespoon baking soda to boil. Remove plastic wrap and slip pretzels, a few at a time, into gently boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds on each side.
Remove with slotted spoon; drain on cooling rack. Sprinkle with coarse salt or other desired toppings. Return to sprayed baking sheet. Bake immediately at 375°F 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.