Now here in sunny old England we aren’t quite the soft pretzel aficionados that our American cousins are. In fact, I only found out what a soft pretzel was as an adult! Prior to that, I only knew pretzels as the little crunchy things you get in chip-type packets. So discovering these beautiful chewy treats was a revelation for me.
One thing I have discovered when trying to make soft pretzels is that the traditional shape is tricky. In fact, make that near-impossible. So of course, I went on the hunt for easier shapes. These soft pretzel twists not only avoid the tricky shaping techniques needed for the traditional pretzel, but also give you a full twirly stick of the best bit – the knot! What more could you want?
Apologies if you are a traditionalist and disapprove of my crazy soft pretzel twists, but seriously. Try them before you judge!
Now one thing that is worth noting here is that I give the quantities needed to make twelve pretzel twists. This means you will need two silicone baking mats, or to make them in two batches. I actually only made six, but didn’t like to put those quantities as it means using only half a packet of yeast which is a bit wasteful, but on this particular day I just didn’t have the hordes available to consume a dozen pretzel twists. So if you too want to make six, just halve the ingredients.
Soft Pretzel Twists – Ingredients (Makes 12)
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110-115ºF) water
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus extra for decoration
- 1 (1/4-ounce or 7gram) package active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose (US) / plain (UK)) flour
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda (US) / bicarbonate of soda (UK)
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
Soft Pretzel Twists – Method
- In a large mixing bowl mix the warm water, sugar and salt. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and leave for 5 minutes, until it begins to froth.
- Pour in the melted butter and then gradually add the flour. Initially you will need a wooden spoon to mix, but as the batter thickens you can switch to kneading with your hands.
- When the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl, tip out onto a silicone baking mat and knead for around 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and even.
- Clean and lightly grease the bowl, form the dough into a round and place in the bottom of the bowl. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place to prove for one hour or until doubled in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 450⁰F / 230⁰C / Gas mark 8, and place your silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet or baking tray. Stir together the 10 cups water and baking soda/bicarbonate of soda, and heat in a large pan. You will want this to get to a rolling boil.
- Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto an un-floured surface (not a silicone baking mat) and divide into 12 equal pieces. Now comes the time to shape your twists! Instructions are for each 12th of the dough, so one pretzel twist.
- Roll the dough into a long thin sausage of about 18-20 inches. Note the reason you do this on a non-floured surface, and not on the silicone baking mat, is that you will need traction for the dough to stay rolled out. The silicone mat is just too non-stick!
- Fold the sausage in half, pinching the ends together to hold in place, and then twist 2 or 3 times.
- Gently pull the twist at the folded end apart to leave a hole.
- Take the stuck-together end and, folding the shape in half, twist it around the other end. Poke the stuck-together end through the hole you made at the folded end.
- Got that? Phew!
- One by one, place the twists into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and shake off any excess water. Place onto your baking mat, evenly spaced.
- Brush the pretzel twists with the egg wash and sprinkle with rock salt. Bake the twists for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through to ensure even baking.
- Remove the twists from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving warm.