Homemade pretzels that are perfectly golden and great for dipping
Some of my earliest kitchen memories are of me and my mom baking together. Baking something like pretzels is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen; there's a task for just about everyone.
Younger kids can add measured ingredients to the mixing bowl while older ones can help measure and knead. And of course everyone will have fun rolling out the dough and twisting it into pretzel shapes.
These pretzels are really easy to make, and they bake up perfectly with a chewy golden crust and a fluffy middle. A combination of all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour, which is milder than traditional whole wheat flour, gives them a traditional pretzel taste and texture. They taste just like pretzels you'd buy at a ball park or from a sidewalk vendor.
The pretzels are delicious on their own, but they're even more fun when you have something to dip them in. Ranch dip is a classic option that everyone loves. I also like to make maple-mustard, which is a fun alternative to honey-mustard, and mix up a quick and easy cheese spread.
Boiling the pretzels in water and baking soda seems like a funny thing to do, but it's the key to making awesome pretzels. Boiling starts the cooking process and gives the pretzels their chewy texture; the baking soda changes the pH of the water and helps the pretzels get their dark brown, shiny crust and pretzel flavor. If you skip this step, the pretzels won't brown as much and will have a softer texture that's similar to a roll.
Homemade soft pretzels
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Coarse sea salt
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let sit 5 minutes; the mixture will become foamy. Mix in the salt, melted butter and all-purpose flour. Mix in 1 cup of white whole wheat flour. (If the dough feels sticky, add up to another 1/2 cup of white wheat flour.) Knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Fill a stock pot with water and baking soda; bring to a rolling boil.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about as long as the short end of your baking sheet; twist into a pretzel shape. Repeat with remaining dough. (You can also make pretzel sticks by dividing the dough into 16 pieces and forming each piece into a 3 - 4-inch log.)
- Carefully drop each pretzel into the boiling water. Boil 30 seconds. Use a wire spider or a slotted spatula to remove from the pot and place on the baking sheet. Repeat. (This step should be done by an adult.)
- Brush the pretzels with egg and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes, or until deep brown. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Ranch dip: Combine 1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip with 1 cup sour cream.
Maple mustard: Combine 1/2 cup Dijon mustard with 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Cheese spread: Using a food processor or stand mixer, combine 4 ounces cream cheese with 4 ounces shredded cheddar, 3 dashes Worcestershire and a few dashes of hot sauce.
Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration with Hidden Valley and SheKnows.