Hot & Fresh Soft Pretzels

Although I now get giggly at a brand new pair of heels, I wasn’t always the stereotypical shopping girl. I was a pretty big tom boy when I was younger. In middle school, I wore my brother’s hand me downs. Not just t-shirts, I remember wearing his old jeans.

Nothing like a pair of shapeless, high waisted boy jeans to really make a girl feel like a lady.

But they didn’t get forced on me. I took them willingly because I used to hate most shopping. Toys? Okay, that was awesome. But groceries? Clothes? Meh.

There was one condition that could change my mind.

Snacks.

Sometimes, if I was really good, my mom would buy me Pocky at the asian grocery store.

I was part of the “Cookie Club” at Loblaws Supermarkets, allowing me a single free cookie if we visited the baking section.

My mom kept mentos in her purse and I could always have one when we were out and about.

At the mall, a whole new world opened up of snacks I could pester my mom to buy me.

There was flavoured, candy coated popcorn, chocolate chunk packed mega muffins, obnoxiously sized cookies and gooey, so big they make you feel kinda sick, cinnamon rolls.

As you may notice, despite being very much a “mall food”, soft pretzels are not on that list.

I did not like soft pretzels as a kid. I did not understand the concept of savoury baked goods. Why use salt where you could be using sugar?

Although I’m still madly in love with sugar, I now understand  the beauty of salt. Furthermore, I’ve learned that soft pretzels are a glorious vehicle for salt. The crisp outer crust with chewy, pillowy innards, all covered in a sharp kick of salt. Hot and fresh out of the oven, it’s now up there with fresh chocolate chip cookies.

Of course, if you’re looking for a more sweet variation, there are options.

Cinnamon sugar hot pretzel anyone?

However, despite my love for sugar, I think savoury wins here.

Somewhere, 12-year-old Amanda is making a face. I’ve offended her sugar coated sensibilities. Don’t worry about her though, she’ll one day come to understand.

Soft Pretzels

Recipe from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 4-5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is too sticky, mix in a 1/4 cup of flour at a time until dough forms. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (A closed oven with the light on works great.)
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
  4. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long 2 foot rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. (I just used a silipat instead which worked great!) Sprinkle with kosher salt. (For a sweeter option, cover the pretzels in cinnamon sugar instead of salt.)
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned. After cooling a couple minutes on the baking sheet, transfer to a wire rack to avoid the bottoms getting soggy, or just eat immediately.
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