Growing up I was always obsessed with pretzel bread. It was the one thing I always asked for when my family went to the bakery. I couldn’t get enough! Well, the other day, I discovered that I could make my own pretzel bread right here at home! Boy am I in trouble because I do not have the will power to stop eating this. It is so good!
Fresh Bread Loaf… Meet Soft Pretzel
Just like the name suggests, pretzel bread is about halfway between a warm, delicious, hand baked loaf of bread and a fresh, soft pretzel. Making this bread is a four step process. The first step is to mix the dough. Start with 3 cups Flour. Add 1 teaspoon Salt and 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar. Next mix in 2 ¼ teaspoons Yeast (one packet) and 1 cup Warm Water. If you’d like, you can proof the yeast first by mixing it with half of the warm water in a separate bowl, and adding a pinch of sugar. If the yeast starts to foam within 5 minutes, then it is active and can be mixed into the flour, along with the other half cup of Warm Water. I usually proof my yeast first, but with this recipe, I simply mixed it all together and it turned out just fine. Don’t forget to add in the 1/8 cup Butter, at room temperature so that it blends well with the other ingredients.
When your dough is fully mixed, turn it out on a clean, floured surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is springy but not sticky. Then, place it in a clean, greased bowl and turn the dough over, inside the bowl to coat evenly. Cover with a clean towel and set it in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Forming the Rolls
Step two begins after the dough has risen. In a small pot on the stove, mix together the additional 4 ½ cups Water, ¼ cup Salt, and ½ cup Baking Soda. Heat these to a simmer as you shape your bread. First, press down into the dough with your fist to deflate it. Then, turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface. You can shape the bread however you like. I usually see them shaped like small French loaves, but to try and keep myself from eating too much at once, I like to make them into small dinner rolls by simply rolling them into balls. Remember to cut a few slits on top.
Dipping the Dough and Baking
Now go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get a greased baking pan ready. Our third step is to take the shaped rolls or loaves one at a time and drop them into the simmering baking soda and salt water mixture. Let them simmer for about 30 seconds each, turning so that both sides are in the water at some point. Using a large ladle, scoop the dough out of the pot, drain the water, and set them on the greased baking tray. When each roll or loaf is done, brush the tops with 1 beaten egg and sprinkle with sea salt. I try not to go overboard with the sea salt, a little bit goes a long way.
Finally bake your pretzel bread at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. If you are making loaves and not rolls, they may need a little more time. You will know the rolls are done when they have that distinctive brown color with a crisp outer shell. Enjoy your delicious pretzel bread! And I hope you have more self restraint with them than I do. I’m off to make another batch already!
3 cups Flour
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
2 ¼ teaspoon Yeast
1/8 cup Butter
1 cup Warm Water
½ cup Baking Soda
4 ½ cups additional Water
¼ cup additional Salt
1 Egg, beaten
Mix Flour, 1 teaspoon Salt, Brown Sugar, Yeast, 1 cup Warm Water, and Butter all together to make the dough. Knead of a clean, floured surface about 5 minutes. Place in a clean, greased bowl and let rise 1 hour. Mix 4 ½ cups Water, 1/3 cup Salt, and ½ cup Baking Soda together in a small stove pot. Let simmer. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a greased baking sheet. Deflate dough and shape as desired, cutting slits to vent. Dip the dough into the simmering salt water and baking soda mixture and let cook for about 30 seconds, flipping halfway through. Place dough onto the greased baking sheet and brush with 1 beaten Egg. Sprinkle tops with a pinch of Sea Salt and bake 12 to 15 minutes, until the bread is crusty and brown on the outside. Enjoy!
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