Soft pretzels are one of those things that you just don’t see out on the street that much anymore. And if you do, those pretzels have probably been sitting there for a while.
I made these pretzels back in the summer and they were a big, big hit. You can eat them on their own, with spicy jalapeno mustard or with garlic cheese sauce, which is what I made this time.
I got this exact recipe from Yammie’s Noshery, a great blog with lots of yummy-looking food and recipes that work. It’s a fun read so if you have time you should definitely give it a look.
I know the twist looks intimidating to some. Rolling out the dough and shaping it properly takes a little bit of practice, but after a couple you’ll get the hang of it, trust me. Plus, even if the shape isn’t perfect, it will still be soft pretzels straight from your oven! Talk about win-win.
Important: If you are going to store the pretzels after baking, make sure they have completely cooled down first and then put them in an air tight container. If they’re still warm, they will build up condensation and lose their fluffiness.
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tbsp. (2 packets) active dry yeast
6 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tbsp. butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups warm water
Coarse sea salt
8 tbsp. butter, melted in a shallow dish
Garlic Cheese Sauce
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup milk
Pinch smoked paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
In a medium saucepan, warm up the milk for just over a minute. Do not blast the heat, because if the milk is too hot the yeast won’t work. Remove from heat, and you should comfortably be able to touch the milk. Once it is at this point, stir in the yeast and let it sit for 3 minutes.
Add the butter and sugar. Gradually add the flour, and then add salt. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until the dough firms up and is all well mixed. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with greased clingwrap. Let the dough rise for roughly one hour in a warm place. The dough should double its size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
“Punch down” dough and divide it into twelve even lumps. Roll them out as thin as you can without ripping them. Combine the warm water and baking soda in a bowl. Form dough into pretzel shapes (see photos) and dip in baking soda water. Place pretzels on a greased baking sheet, and sprinkle with coarse salt.
If you want a less traditional pretzel you can add other spices as well, but don’t overdo it. Bake pretzels for 7-11 minutes, keeping a close eye on them until browned. Dip each pretzel in the remaining 8 tbsp. butter. Serve with mustards, or garlic cheese sauce (method below).
Garlic Cheese Sauce
In a saucepan, combine the butter, flour, and garlic over medium heat. Whisk until lightly browned. Whisk in the milk, paprika, and cayenne pepper and continue whisking until thickened. Add the cheese and whisk until melted. Serve hot.