Soft Seasoned Pretzels

I can remember eating a lot of soft pretzels when I was losing weight. At Cubs games, high school sporting events, and so on, where there were never “healthy” options. As someone cutting calories, events usually meant choosing the lesser of many evils. For me, that was usually in the form of soft pretzels.

Recently, one of my students and I got into a discussion about soft pretzels as he works sporting events for Ohio State. He shared that the pretzels are lathered in butter and the nutrition facts on the box are…grim. …Dang.

When I ran across a recipe a few weeks ago for soft pretzels I knew I had to make them. No butter involved. And they looked…amazing.

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Soft Seasoned Pretzels adapted from Joy the Baker and Gourmet, March 2004

1 Tbsp sugar
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp baking soda

Directions:

Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 110 F) in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes. (Dough needs to be somewhat sticky to facilitate rolling and forming into pretzels).

Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 16 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 14-16 inches long. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour. Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (Dough will retract as you form the pretzel.)

Transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form the rest of the pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.

Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425 F. Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add heaping tablespoon of baking soda.

Using both hands, carefully add 3 pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes. Transfer boiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining pretzels.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet. Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 20-22 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm. Yield: 16 small soft pretzels.

Cook’s notes:
– Dough can be mixed and kneaded in a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook.
– Pretzels are best the day they are made. (When they are kept overnight, salt may dissolve.)

Nutrition Information (per pretzel): 99 calories; 0.1 g. fat; 7 mg. cholesterol; 721 mg. sodium; 21.4 g. carbohydrate; 0 g. fiber; 3 g. protein

Result: Mr. Prevention and I tried these, looked at each other, and just sighed. These are worth every bit of time and elbow grease. They are certainly not “easy” to make, but there’s nothing difficult about them…just set aside the time and patience 😀  I think next time I will try and shave off a bit of the sodium by using 1-2 teaspoons in the dough and lighten up the sea salt sprinkled over the egg wash. Make these for a group — they will be impressed! Oh, and forming a pretzel is really very easy. Here is a video: How to fold a pretzel.

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It’s ironic that I made these on Sunday because last night I watched an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay that featured soft pretzels. As crazy as these directions sounded, they now all make sense to me. 🙂

Some can look better than others, though. Not to brag or anything, but I excel in pretzel formation when compared to Mr. Prevention.

He was a little offended to have his pretzels picked on so publicly, but he swears his tasted better than mine. Sore loser.

Question: What do you like to eat at a sporting event? Nachos? Soft pretzels? Peanuts? Hot dogs?

Have a great day,


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35 Comments

  1. February 8, 2011 / 6:51 am

    I am sooooo impressed! Your pretzels are PERFECT!!!

  2. February 8, 2011 / 7:36 am

    I tend to just bring my own food when attending sporting events, but pretzels are always a delicious treat. I love this homemade recipe! Although I might have to smother them in cinnamon sugar. 😛

  3. February 8, 2011 / 7:46 am

    I like to eat all of the above, thanks! haha, actually just the hot dog, but Nick always gets soft pretzels and I have a few 🙂 I saw that episode of Throwdown actually, and it made me CRAVVVVE soft pretzels, so these sound amazing right now. I’m impressed Nicole!!

  4. February 8, 2011 / 7:56 am

    Soft pretzels are one of my all-time favorite snacks! This is the second blog post about soft pretzels that I’ve come across today. Must be a sign that I NEED to make these!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe and tutorial, Nicole! They look AMAZING!

  5. February 8, 2011 / 8:00 am

    Mmmm!! Great recipe–I haven’t made pretzels in far too long! I love mine sweet with some cinnamon and sugar =)

  6. February 8, 2011 / 8:27 am

    Wow your pretzels look so impressive. I would love to steal the whole tray from your kithen 🙂
    I loves any meaty snacks like burgers, chicken wings, meatballs, etc. at the games 🙂

  7. February 8, 2011 / 8:29 am

    Ha! Isn’t it funny how our perception of what is a healthier food can be totally off depending on how it’s prepared? Kind of like popcorn at the movies – even when you ask for no butter, I’m not convinced it’s totally plain. Glad you were able to enjoy one of your favorite treats!

  8. February 8, 2011 / 8:30 am

    WOw! what the pretzel maker you are. They look perfect even Mr. Prevention’s :))

  9. February 8, 2011 / 8:30 am

    I haven’t had a soft pretzel in SO long! They actually don’t remind me of sporting events– they remind me of the MALL!!!

  10. February 8, 2011 / 8:53 am

    So beautiful! Those look like the turned out great…well worth a happy sigh. I go for pretzels a lot because it’s one of Philly’s signatures!

  11. Holly
    February 8, 2011 / 9:13 am

    I agree! That is usually what I eat at sporting events….although I try to smuggle in a wrap from home (only because I’m frugal, and even those pretzels can be 5! Then they always make me want a Diet Coke/Beer, which is another $6….) 😉

  12. February 8, 2011 / 9:15 am

    These look amazing. I’m like you. If I’m somewhere that has food I won’t eat, I’ll opt for pretzels. I had a feeling Auntie Ann-type pretzels were terrible for you but I didn’t guess the general soft pretzels were buttered, too. Sigh.

  13. February 8, 2011 / 9:26 am

    Holy cow Nicole…forget me making these, I am just coming down and eating YOURS! they look spectacular!!!

    I have to admit, I love me some nachos and cheese WITH jalapenos at games….no NOT diet friendly.

  14. February 8, 2011 / 10:25 am

    There’s a great brewery in Nashville that has really good pretzels. I like margaritas on the rocks and beer brats with mustard :).

  15. February 8, 2011 / 11:27 am

    There is nothing like a good homemade pretzel. Which reminds me that I should make some again. I made them a while ago and, for some reason, haven’t made them since!

    …maybe I can make heart shapes for Valentine’s day 😀

  16. February 8, 2011 / 11:46 am

    I love soft pretzels! They are soo delicious! These look excellent. I am sure they taste so delicious homemade. You are a good pretzel shaper for sure. 🙂

  17. February 8, 2011 / 2:05 pm

    I love soft pretzels! You don’t know how excited I am to try this recipe!

  18. February 8, 2011 / 3:45 pm

    I love soft pretzels – dipped in that synthetic cheese sauce! hahaha! I just ruined any chances of making my pretzel even remotely healthy!

  19. February 8, 2011 / 9:20 pm

    Wow…those look amazing. My sporting event food? Veggie dogs and beer. Neither of which I’m particularly proud to eat/drink. Good thing I don’t go to to many sporting events.

  20. February 9, 2011 / 4:50 pm

    I have got to make these! They look amazing.

  21. February 11, 2011 / 12:02 am

    Haha, yours is way prettier 🙂 I’ve never made soft pretzels and really want to try, yours look incredible!

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