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

Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Part of the essence of the perfect New York pretzel is the way they look. Philadelphia has a pretzel culture too, but you’d never confuse it with its northern cousin, due to the shape. Philly has figure-8 knots and New York has well… pretzel shape. Admittedly, it’s nostalgia that makes me partial to the New York version. And you really should serve these homemade soft pretzels with mustard to complete the experience, grainy preferred.

Flour, Danish Dough Whisk and Yeast | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Homemade Soft Pretzels

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 Homemade Soft 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

Dough in a Container with Danish Whisk and Yeast | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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.

Active Bread Dough in a Container| Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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 475°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.)

Homemade Soft Pretzels Dough Divided | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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.

Homemade Soft Pretzel Dough Shaped into Balls | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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:

Homemade Soft Pretzels in Process | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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.

Sprinkling Salt on Homemade Soft Pretzels | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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.

Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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

Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Let cool on a rack.

Homemade Soft Pretzel with Grainy Mustard | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Serve with your favorite mustard or with nothing at all.

15 thoughts to “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!

    1. Hi Laura,

      Thank you for the lovely note, we look forward to hearing about the bread you bake!

      Cheers, Zoë

  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.

  5. I’m very curious as to how brushing on the baking soda solution will come out differently from the boiling the method. I’m guessing you have to brush both sides of the pretzel before baking and no need to use egg wash? Thanks.

    1. Correct, no egg wash. In fact, we were looking to have this come out the same. The reason we experimented with the “brush-on” method was that it was less work and bother than boiling.

  6. Hi guys,
    As always I compliment all your hard work bringing us these amazing recipes.

    Question though… I am a New Yorker through and through. Why when shaping these pretzels do we want this wide fat bottom in the middle. I have never seen any pretzels like this here. From yankee stadium, to the streets of Manhattan, to coney island to fairs on Long island…. Nobody does this. Why not shape it even diameter though-out the rope. I have tried this with the original recipe that comes out to about 90 g of dough/ pretzel, however the shape looks better. I had already decided to up the size to 170 g before I saw this article. I am trying this again tonight with 6 oz (170 g). of dough stretched to 40 inches. Let me know if I am missing something here with the wide bottom.

    1. It’s a traditional German style, but as a fellow New Yorker, I have to admit that’s not the way they do it back home! The even diameter ones are just fine

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