Soft Pretzels – (How-to Video on Shaping the Dough)

pretzels | Breadin5(2 of 10)

When I was growing up in Connecticut I’d spend a fair amount of time in New York City. Every time I’d get off the train I’d get a pretzel from a cart outside the station. That and a trip to the Papaya King were enough to get me through the day. It was a cheap, tasty and filling snack for a teenager.

Part of the characteristics of that perfect New York pretzel is the way they look. Philadelphia has a pretzel culture too, but you’d never confuse it with it’s northern cousin, due to the shape. Philly has figure-8 knots and New York has…pretzel shape. It is admittadly nostalgia that makes me partial to the New York version. And you really should serve them with mustard to complete the experience. I like a grainy mustard and that is just not at all traditional, oh well.

How-to Shape a New York Pretzel Video.

pretzels | Breadin5(10 of 10)

Pretzel Dough from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day:

3 cups lukewarm water

1 tablespoon Platinum Yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons Non-diastatic malt powder (or sugar)

6 1/2 cups (2 pounds) bread flour – (this will make a stronger dough and holds up to boiling the pretzels. BUT, I’m not going to boil these pretzels, so feel free to use all-purpose flour for this recipe. If you want to boil the pretzels, be sure to use the bread flour.)

For top of the Pretzels:

2 cups water

2 tablespoons baking soda – (We didn’t use lye, because it is a chemical that few people will have on hand and it is a bit risky to use. If you are committed to the authentic pretzel you really will want to find some lye and be very careful when using it, there are some pretty significant warnings on the label.)

1 tablespoon sugar

Pretzel Salt

pretzels | Breadin5(9 of 10)

If you’ve used bread flour, you’ll notice it is dryer than our master recipe (which uses all-purpose flour), and this is by design, so that the dough will hold up when dipped in the baking soda solution.

pretzels | Breadin5(8 of 10)

Because of the bread flour and the Platinum yeast, you’ll see lots of air holes in the dough. Refrigerate and use the dough over the next 14 days.

When you are ready to make your pretzels:

Preheat the oven to 375°F (this is a touch hotter than we say in the book. I did this because my pretzels are bigger and I liked the color, crispness and interior with the hotter oven.)

pretzels | Breadin5(7 of 10)

I’ve made larger pretzels than we make in our book, but you can make them any size you like. These are about 6-ounces each. If you take 2-pounds out of the bucket (about half the dough) and divide it into 5 pieces, you’ll come up with about the right amount of dough.

pretzels | Breadin5(6 of 10)

Form each piece into smooth balls. Cover them and let them rest for about 30 minutes to relax. This will help in your shaping.

Here is a video that shows how to get the right shape. I made a simple pretzel and one with an extra twist:

(Thank you to my son, Henri, for shooting and editing the video. So great to have a teenager in the house.)

pretzels | Breadin5(5 of 10)

After you shape your pretzel, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover them and let them rest for about 20 to 30 minutes.

While they are resting, mix the water, baking soda and sugar, stirring until the soda and sugar has dissolved completely.  Brush the pretzels with the baking soda solution.

pretzels | Breadin5(4 of 10)

Sprinkle with pretzel salt or coarse salt. You can slash with a Lame or knife along the bottom or leave them as is, both are a fine look.

pretzels | Breadin5(3 of 10)

Bake with steam for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until nicely browned.

pretzels | Breadin5(2 of 10)

Let cool on a rack.

pretzels | Breadin5(1 of 10)

Serve with your favorite mustard or with nothing at all.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

11 thoughts on “Soft Pretzels – (How-to Video on Shaping the Dough)

  1. I cannot thank you enough for the “New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” book. It is a wealth of information and so well written and laid out. Thank you both again. I am reading and re-reading, highlighting and taking notes as I go. I will start my first loaf this week.

      1. One quick question …… You say to drill a small hole in the container that the dough will be in. Will the container with the hole in it be the same container that will hold the dough in the frig. The dough won’t dry out ? Or do you just use that container with the hole before the dough goes into the frig.

  2. LOVE this tutorial! I just got the New Artisan Bread from the library with a stack of other bread cookbooks, and I returned the others with barely a glance and will soon be buying this one! Thanks for all the time and thought you’ve put into demystifying bread making!

  3. Thanks for this post. I grew up in Philadelphia, so I NEED my soft pretzels regularly. As you know, they are time consuming to make, and not so tasty after the 2nd day. “Boiling” the dough is my usual method, so I used all bread flour. For my test pretzels, I tried brushing on the baking soda solution, and they tasted more like French bread, so I split, toasted, and buttered them.

    This time around, I first made a couple of bagels with the dough, boiling them in sugar water, and baking them on a stone at 500F. Then I used one quart of the water, added 5 tsp of baking soda, and boiled a couple of pretzels. The oven temp was reduced to 475F for the pretzels. The bagels took about 30 minutes to get well browned, and the pretzels about 20 minutes. I am very pleased with the taste of the pretzels. I used 6oz of dough for each of the bagels and pretzels, and used the steam method for each. My baking temp according to the oven thermometer inside, was about 425F for the bagels, and 400F for the pretzels.

    1. Hi Bill,

      This is great, thank you for the note and for sharing all the results of your tests. I am sure others will find them very useful.

      Cheers and enjoy all the bread! Zoë

  4. How necessary is the bread flour for boiling? I mixed up a batch with all purpose because that’s all I have. I would like to boil them but was wondering if it just wouldn’t work at all, or just wouldn’t be quite as good. I’m not a New Yorker or from Philly so I don’t need them to be *perfect!* But if will flop I would just bake them.

    Also thank you SO MUCH! This has completely transformed our baking. My son is allergic to dairy and nuts and had his first donut a few weeks ago because of you! He’s a big fan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *