My 5 year old and I have something in common. Every time we go to the mall, we have to stop at the soft pretzel shop to get a pretzel. We don’t even have to go into the mall for him to know where to get one of these scrumptious snacks. Just driving by the mall, he will ask if we might have time to go in and get some. Since the gym I frequent is located right next to the mall, I get asked for pretzels a lot! Being as I love them too, the answer is often yes. So, I decided to test out the hot pretzels recipe from Ready, Set, Dough! by Melanie Barnard to see if we could have a version that was easy to make at home and just as tasty. For the price of one pretzel at the mall, we can have quite a few more with this recipe!
2 quarts water
¼ cup baking soda
One 11-ounce tube refrigerated breadstick dough
1 egg white, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt or sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400*F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring the water and baking soda to a boil.
Separate the dough into 6 long strips, pinching the perforated edges to seal if making large pretzels, or separate into 12 shorter strips for small pretzels. Pull the strips to about 12 inches for large pretzels and about 6 inches for small ones. Twist into a pretzel shape, pinching the ends of the loops to seal the shape together.
Drop the pretzels, a few at a time, into the boiling water. Boil gently for about 20 seconds until puffed and spongy. Use a slotted spoon to gently turn the pretzels and boil on the other side for about 10 seconds for small pretzels and 20 to 30 seconds for large pretzels. Use a slotted spoon to drain the pretzels, then place them on the prepared baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart. Brush with the beaten egg white, taking care that it does not drip onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt.
Bake until rich golden brown and the crust is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, then serve warm or at room temperature within a few hours of baking.
Hot Pretzels Tips
The pretzels are best warm from the oven, but can be reheated a few hours later in a 300*F oven for a few minutes.
The coarse kosher salt is important because it does not dissolve onto the crust, but stays crunchy.
Don’t crowd the pan of water during boiling or the pretzels will stick to each other.
Hot Pretzels Variations
For a more richly browned crust, brush with a whole egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water.
Shape the dough into “sticks” by omitting the shaping into a pretzel and instead boiling the 12 breadsticks according to step 3.
For “unsalted” pretzels, omit the kosher salt, though the pretzels will still taste a bit salty from the baking soda in the water.
These pretzels were fairly simple. I loved that the dough was premade! (That’s the beauty of the book this recipe came from too. The author of this book wanted beginners to know how to manipulate store-bought doughs in order to make some pretty yummy dishes.) The 11 ounce tube of refrigerated breadstick dough that I purchased was found next to all the other refrigerator biscuits. I didn’t even know that something like that existed until I tried this recipe! My can of breadstick dough had 8 breadsticks in it so I just opted to do 8 pretzels, using the already cut dough strips to form each pretzel. I followed the instructions for the large pretzels. I had a pretty small slotted spoon and it was difficult not to mess up the pretzels. So, if you have a pasta spider or other larger slotted spoon, I would use that to manipulate the pretzels in the water. Also, be careful not to let the pretzels boil too long – they get really gummy if you do! I also tried to dry them a little bit before baking. I baked mine for 25 minutes and they were a good rich brown color, even without doing the variation of using a whole beaten egg instead of just the egg white.
In regards to taste, they definitely had the signature pretzel flavor I was looking for. The crust wasn’t as crisp as I would prefer, but the flavor was there. I personally didn’t care for the coarse salt on the pretzels either because I thought they were salty enough without it. I think next time I would boil them for a little less time and leave the salt off. Instead, I would brush them with melted, unsalted butter right out of the oven! And, I can have eight pretzels for the price of one at the mall. How do you beat that? I may just need to go buy some more breadstick dough….