A way to my husband’s heart is through pretzel bread. I had made pretzel rolls for one of our first Valentine’s days, but I needed to top those. I decided to make Alton Brown’s Soft Pretzels this year. Homemade pretzels are simple and delicious right out of the oven.
Pretzels use a yeast bread base with a baking soda bath. For yeast bread, one has to be very careful to have the water at a specific temperature. I used a thermometer to keep track of the temperatures, so as to not kill the yeast. If it isn’t warm enough, then the yeast would not be activated. Adding the sugar and salt to the water allows the yeast to keep active throughout the whole process and adds flavor.
Let the yeast sit in the water without stirring for about 5 minutes. Using a dough hook, add the flour and melted butter, and mix on a low speed until well combined. Increase the speed and knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, oil it, and put the dough back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 50-55 minutes. This allows it to double in size. I recommend to store the bowl away from colder temperatures to keep the dough rising over the proofing stage.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper brushed with oil. Start boiling the water and baking soda while you prepare the dough. Separate the dough into eight equal pieces. I found it easier to keep breaking everything in half to make sure they were equal. Roll each piece of dough into a 24” rope. Most likely they won’t all be exactly the same size.
Take each rope and create a u shape. Then cross each end over one another and twist to complete the pretzel. Temporarily place on the baking sheet. Add each pretzel, one by one, into the baking soda bath for 30 seconds. They will puff up a little bit. Use a large spatula to remove the pretzel and put back onto the baking sheet. Try to get as much water off as possible before setting it down. Brush each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. I did not bother purchasing pretzel salt because the sea salt worked perfectly! Bake the pretzels for 12-14 minutes or until a dark golden brown color. Let cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.
These pretzels are soft and pull apart when they are right from the oven. These turned out much better than the pretzel rolls. Let’s just say these were a big hit with my husband and they have been added to “must make often" list. I hope you enjoy them!