Mall-Like Soft Pretzels

I’ve always been a sucker for those delicious heart attack-inducing, buttery soft pretzels from the mall. I was never a huge fan of shopping as a kid (sometimes not even now), mainly because of my awkward proportions it was really hard to find anything that fit. This made the whole experience pretty glum and I would have rather been anywhere else. But the shining beacon of light at the end of the tunnel was knowing I could get one of those delicious Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels. Or Wetzel’s Pretzels, I wasn’t overly picky. If it was drenched in butter and salt and made my heart briefly stop then I was totally good with that.

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Unfortunately, mall soft pretzels, or soft pretzels at all, aren’t as huge a thing here in Australia or lots of other countries I’ve been to. I’ve been in some serious withdrawal and I was really craving some the other day so I thought I’d give it a go making them myself. I didn’t think they could be that hard. In fact, they’re so incredibly easy and although they’re not as deliciously bad for you as Auntie Anne’s they’re still pretty darn good and helped my soft pretzel craving.

Overall, these pretzels really aren’t that bad for you considering, but of course if you want to make it bad for you there are plenty of very easy ways that I’m sure would make them even more delicious. However, I’m going to focus on this slightly healthier version that are still just as tasty! I made a batch of just salt first (my favorite) but on the second day I made some cinnamon sugar ones which were also delicious, but if you try any other flavors I’d love to know what you chose. This recipe makes approximately 12 mini ones.

Ingredients:

8g active dry yeast (one packet)
2g white sugar
150ml of warm water
310g plain (or all-purpose) flour
5og of white sugar
10ml of vegetable oil
Hot water and baking soda
Whatever you want for your topping
Salt

1. Mix the packet of yeast with 150ml of warm water and 2g of sugar and stir until mixed through. Leave this for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine the flour, remaining sugar, and salt and mix thoroughly. After 10 minutes combine the yeast mixture in the large bowl with the vegetable oil and stir and then begin to knead the dough.

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2. Kneading the dough made me exhausted, but I’ll admit I don’t have a lot of upper body strength so it was a bit of a workout for me. You’ll have to knead it for about 8-10 minutes to get it the right consistency and if it’s a little dry add a teaspoon or two of water.

3. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside and cover for at least an hour. The longest I’ve left mine was an hour and a half (I’m in impatient) but it should double in size. If you leave it longer though it won’t make any difference. Once it’s grown punch it down and then take it out and begin to cut it into equal parts. Or just wing it if you’re like me. Sometimes being imprecise works fine!

4. Roll the pieces of dough into long ropes about the thick of a pencil. This part is probably the most difficult because the dough has a tendency to want to spring back into place so you just have to pull and roll until it stays, but try not to break it like I did many many times. If you were making a large pretzel like the ones you see at Auntie Anne’s the rule of thumb is that the rope should be about 3 feet, but because I made mini (and more snack bite sizes) mine were about a food.

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5. Fold your ropes into pretzels shapes (look it up if you have to– I didn’t know how I’m ashamed to say). Combine some hot water and baking soda in a bowl and mix until most of the baking soda has dissolved. At this stage some people prefer to boil the pretzels in baking soda and water for a couple of minutes, but I prefer just dipping them because I find they fall apart a lot easier if you boil them. The reason for covering them in baking soda and water is because the alkaline mixture allows them to brown a lot better. Don’t ask me anything more technical than that, I was never very good at science.

5. Once you’ve dipped your pretzels in the baking soda and water solution brush them with some melted butter. This isn’t necessary but I like butter and I think it helps them brown a little better in addition to the baking soda. At this point I like to add the salt or cinnamon sugar or whatever is going on top. You can put it on after but in my experience it stays better if it’s baking on.

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6. Bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 230ºc/450ºf.

Now that I know how to make these I’m going to be making them all the time and might gain 10 pounds. Although, I’m totally ok with that because these soft pretzels are extremely yummy and now I want to go home and eat some.

Have any of you made soft pretzels? What are some tricks you stick by?

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