No shade on Auntie Anne, but the soft pretzels you bake at home are even better than the ones you chomp on at the shopping mall. Really, they are!
And I have a secret to making them fast: store-bought pizza dough.
I usually start with plain pizza dough, though you can use whole wheat or herbed. Most supermarkets stock these in the prepared food section or the refrigerated aisle.
Once you have your dough, take it out of its package and let it come to room temperature. It'll be more elastic and hold its shape better than chilled dough.
Now pay attention to these two tricks for getting that authentic pretzel look and flavor I know you want:
The first is to dip the dough twists in a mixture of baking soda and water before baking. The baking soda creates an alkaline wash that helps set the outside of the pretzel, creating a chewier, perfectly browned crust.
The second trick is to brush the pretzels with a beaten egg before baking, which helps salt stick, increases the browning and creates a slight shine.
I usually like coarse salt when finishing my pretzels, but you can use a seasoning salt, garlic salt or even a cinnamon-sugar mixture, depending on your mood.
Don't even think for a second about skipping the dipping sauce. My favorite is simply two parts whole grain mustard to one part honey.
You could also make a dipping sauce that is a little like cream-cheese frosting by combining 3 ounces of cream cheese with ½ cup powdered sugar, 1½ tablespoons milk and a touch of vanilla extract. Add a generous pinch of cinnamon for even more of that food-court flavor. Delish!
Soft Pizza-Dough Pretzels
Yield: Makes 6 pretzels
- 16 ounces pizza dough
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 large egg
- Coarse salt
1. Get Prepped
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface (dusted with just enough flour so the dough doesn't stick), divide the pizza dough into six equal portions.
2. Roll Your Ropes
Roll out each piece into a rope about 24-inches long. If the dough does not stretch easily or springs back, let it rest for 5 minutes, then stretch it again.
3. Do the Twist
Shape ropes of dough into pretzels by bringing the ends together, twisting them around once and then bringing the twist down into a pretzel shape.
4. Baking Soda Bath Time!
In a medium bowl, whisk together warm water and baking soda (the baking soda will not entirely dissolve). Dunk each pretzel into the water.
Hold the pretzel dough over the bowl to let any excess water drip off, then transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat with all pretzels.
5. Glaze and Salt
In a small bowl, beat egg. Use a pastry brush to brush beaten egg over the tops of the pretzels. Sprinkle with coarse salt, to taste.
6. Bake 'Em Up
Bake for about 20 minutes, until pretzels are deep golden brown. Allow pretzels to cool slightly before serving.