Shape and Bake Soft Pretzels

Soft and chewy on the inside, an outside crust with some crunch and a top speckled with bits of salt — now that’s a pretzel — and it’s homemade.

During the cold, snowy months of winter, I enjoy warming up the kitchen with homemade bread baking in the oven.  The familiar fragrance of yeast bubbling and the aroma of soft dough rising in a bowl on the counter (or on the top of the clothes dryer when it’s tumbling a load of clothes) brings me comfort. And, there is nothing like kneading dough to relieve stress.

I’m hoping to get my grandchildren just as hooked on making bread as I am. When a few of my grandchildren were visiting recently I suggested we make some soft pretzels, a food they love.

They all thought a snack of soft pretzels sounded great, but it was ten-year-old Emily who took action.

She whisked the yeast with a bit of sugar into water and watched as the mixture bubbled, foamed and grew. She stirred in some flour. She kneaded the dough.

She shaped pretzels.

And, into the oven they went. These pretzels, unlike most soft pretzels, skip the step that involves being dropped into a pot of boiling water before baking in the oven.

While we waited for the dough to double in size, Emily made some hot cocoa.

Tanner moved flour around with a bulldozer fork.

Madison was reading books and playing school.

And, before we knew it, the pretzels were ready to eat. Created by Emily and enjoyed by all, the pretzels received a thumbs-up.

This dough is the one I normally use for making a pan of focaccia. It’s a nice recipe for those who have felt intimidated by yeast dough. This is a good one to use for a first yeast experience. Hopefully, it will get you hooked on baking with yeast.

Shape and Bake Soft Pretzels

  • 1¼ cups warm water (105 degrees F. to 115 degrees F.)
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt

Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle sugar and yeast over the water. Gently whisk to mix. Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes. If the yeast is alive, the mixture will bubble and swell and foam. If this doesn’t happen, you’ll need to start over with fresh yeast.

Measure flour into another bowl. Stir some of the flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt into the yeast mixture. Gradually add more flour until dough forms. You may not need to use all of the flour you’ve measured out. When the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and follows your spoon, place the dough onto a lightly floured (using premeasured flour from bowl) work surface. Turn the mixing bowl upside down over the dough and let it rest.

Use shortening on your clean fingers, grease a large cookie sheet and the inside of another large glass bowl. Set aside. Rub the shortening remaining on your fingers onto the inside of your hands. This will help prevent the dough from sticking to your hands when you begin kneading.

Knead dough 10 to 12 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl. Turn the ball of dough over so that greased side is facing up. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. Let dough rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, place oven rack in lowest rack position. Heave oven to 450 degrees.

Gently punch dough to deflate. Place dough work surface. Cut dough into 8 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 18 inches long. Make a U shape with the rope of dough. Bring the ends of the U down toward you, give the ends a twist and tuck them under the bottom of the U. Place on cookie sheet. Let the pretzels rise about 20 minutes or until risen by half. Brush pretzels with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake in preheated 450-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack. Cut and serve warm. Makes 8 pretzels.

7 thoughts on “Shape and Bake Soft Pretzels

  1. Hi! This is my first time on your blog. On your Shape and bake soft pretzels recipie, the amount for the ingredients do not show up correctly. I would like to try this recipie as it sounds really good.

    • There seems to be a problem with the blogs, Paulene. I will paste the ingredient list in this reply to you and am hopeful they will come out right. I will also email them to you. Enjoy the soft pretzels.
      1¼ cups warm water (105 degrees F. to 115 degrees F.)
      1½ teaspoons sugar
      1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
      1½ teaspoons salt
      3½ cups all-purpose flour
      2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
      ½ teaspoon coarse salt

  2. Hi Sue, the pretizels look great, and i will be making them this weekend. Could you share Emily’s hot chocolate recipe? Seeing Tanner making paths in the flower with his tucks brings back wonderful memories of baking with my boys. Now they want the finished product, time goes by and they grow up!

    After the holidays and making ham,turkey with all the timmings, plus the soups from the bones, lots of heavy foods including the “dumplings” i am so ready for a simple Minnesota hotdish. No white sauce, just dig into my cupboard and grab the canned tomaioes, brown up good ground beef and add some pasta. Simple, taste and comforting…….the cold weather Minneota hot dish…..with your pretzils and Emily’s hot cocoa and Tanner driving his trucks in the flour. What Grandmother could as for more? a maid? just kidding.

  3. My girls and I just made pretzels today. We used a recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. It did have the boiling water step, which was fun for me. We all snacked on the pretzels this afternoon. For my supper I made a pretzel sandwich with basil and fresh mozzerella. Yum!

  4. Hi! Thanks for publishing this recipe! This will be my first time making anything with yeast by myself (I’m 18) – and I hope it turns out. As I type, the dough is in the “45 minutes to an hour resting stage” and I’m super excited because it’s gone well so far!
    Thanks again!

    • Good for you, India. I can’t wait to hear how your first yeast dough experience turns out. I’m so glad you’re giving the soft pretzels a try.

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