Martin said the best thing I ever made was last night, with these soft pretzels. I don’t know what made me decide to make it – old school nostalgia for salty bread with mustard or perhaps something akin to a cinnamon-sugar donut. But I felt like it and so I did.

The original recipe called for the dough to be mixed and kneaded by hand. I think my kneading abilities are pretty poor and I had a KitchenAid with a dough hook so I tried to see if I could tweak the recipe. Amy once told me it’s pretty hard to overknead bread so I was going to hope she was right and forge ahead.

Everything came together really easily. I forgot to set a timer and I think I allowed the dough to rise for longer than the recommended time. I figured that was okay, except when I peeked in on my dough it had grown into this giant mound. Wow! I pulled it apart into 12 pieces and the directions called for each piece to be rolled into a long thin strip. That required a lot of pulling on my part to get it to stretch out and I was worried I was breaking up precious air pockets by doing it.

But after a brief stint in the oven, I opened the door to find that these had magically puffed … a lot! And were delectably golden brown. I probably need to roll them into thinner ropes next time because these looked more like cute little cinnamon buns than anything else. So I sprinkled them with various toppings and Martin and I had a field day, eating pretzels instead of dinner. Because we like to lead the healthy life.

So here’s the recipe. They are fabulous and easy and everyone should make these instead of going to Auntie Anne’s. Unless, you know, you have a quick hankering for a pretzel.

Soft Pretzels

1 pkt. (0.25 oz) instant rise yeast
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1-⅛ tsp. salt
1-½ cups water
3 cups AP flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cups water
2 tbsp. baking soda
2-½ tbsp. butter
Optional toppings: shredded cheddar, salt, cinnamon sugar

1/ Combine yeast, brown sugar and salt in a bowl.

2/ Bring water to a boil and then pour into a bowl. When temperature has reached 110-degrees, add 1–½ cups water to the yeast mixture and stir until mixed.

3/ Let sit for a few minutes. If the surface is clear and slightly translucent, it should be cloudy by the time you use it.

4/ Add flour – all at once is apparently okay. Set in stand mixer and attach dough hook. Put mixer on setting 4 and mixed until everything is well combined.

5/ Keep mixing until dough is smooth and elastic. It should stick to the bottom of the bowl a little but not the sides. Also, it should be fairly stretchy and easy to “pull” off the dough hook later. If it is too dry or wet, add a tbsp. of water or flour appropriately.

6/ Lightly grease a bowl and place dough inside, turning to coat.

7/ Cover with plastic wrap; let sit for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.

8/ Heat up more water and pour 2 cups into a bowl. When temperature has reached 110 degrees, add baking soda.
9/ Preheat oven to 450-degrees.

10/ Pull dough into 12 pieces and roll out into thin ropes on a lightly floured surface. Shape into pretzels and dip into water.

11/ Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown.

12/ While still hot, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with toppings.

Servings: 12 pretzels

Right before baking

Cheddar Cheese Pretzels