I love soft pretzels. I know they aren’t the healthiest option when it comes to snack foods, but there’s just something about them that keeps me coming back. I know I’m not the only one who is tempted by the enticing smells whenever they pass a pretzel vendor in a shopping center!
So in lieu of indulging in the less healthy options in either the frozen foods section of the market or the stands as I run my errands, I’ve learned to make them fresh at home. But before I get to the recipe, I wanted to share a bit of the story behind this delicious snack food.
Pretzels have a long history – they go all the way back to Europe in the early middle ages. It is said that they were invented by monks as a reward to children who said their prayers, but because there is little evidence proving their actual origins, it’s unsure as to whether or not the story is true.
Pretzels have served as the emblem for baker guilds in Germany since the 12th century and the German region of Alsace (now East France) is known for the earliest depiction of the pretzel. It kind of makes me sad that I didn’t have one while I was there.
Pretzels were introduced to the US during the 18th century and New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia quickly became renowned for their takes on the soft pretzel. As a fun side note, did you know that about 12 times as many pretzels are consumed in Philadelphia as anywhere else in the US? They also produce a whopping 80% of the country’s pretzels!
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 4.5 cups flour
- 2 oz unsalted butter, melted
- Oil, for pan
- 10 cups water, approximately
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Put all ingredients in a bowl and let the seeds soak at room temperature for 24-48 hours. After soaking, pour ingredients in a blender and pulse to desired consistency. (I pulse the ingredients until about ½ of the seeds break up and you get a “paste”. The longer you pulse the ingredients, the thicker the paste will become).
- If you want a less spicy mustard, use only yellow mustard seeds. One Cup.
- Spoon mustard into ½ pint canning jars. You will get 5-6 jars. Store in the refrigerator. The mustard will be good for at least 4 months. I prefer to process my batches so that I can store the extra jars in the pantry. If processed and stored in a cool dark location, the mustard should last for at least a year.
- To can, follow standard canning instructions. Heat your mustard to just under the boiling point. Sterilize jars and boil them in a water bath. Put lids in a pan, immersing them in water and heat water to boiling point to soften seals. Spoon hot mustard into hot jars, immediately putting a lid on the jar finger tight. Let jars cool at room temperature until lids seal, then store in a cool and dark location. If you have a jar or jars that don’t seal, store them in the refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, combine the water, sugar and kosher salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then allow mixture sit for approximately 5 minutes.
- Work in the flour and melted butter until well combined. Knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl and lightly oil the bowl so that the dough does not stick. Cover and set aside for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Cut a piece of foil large enough to cover your baking tray and the brush with oil. Set to the side.
- Add the water and baking soda to a large pot or saucepan and then bring to boil.
- While waiting for the water to boil, split the dough into 8 equal pieces, rolling each out into a rope-like shape. Pick up the ends of the dough, making a U shape and then cross the ends over one another, pressing them into the bottom of the U to form the pretzel. Do this for the remaining pieces.
- One by one, place the pretzels into the boiling water/baking soda mixture for approximately 30 seconds each. Remove using a spatula and place them on the oiled baking sheet. Brush each of the pretzels with the egg, then sprinkle with additional salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
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Do you have a favorite family recipe? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.