Warm, doughy, soft, plushy: these are all words that can describe a good bed, a good boyfriend, and a good pretzel. Today, though, we’ll be focusing on pretzels, and what makes the bigger, softer variety so scrumptious.
What Makes a Good Soft Pretzel?
Considering that people have been snacking on soft pretzels since the Middle Ages, the quest for the perfect recipe has been a long and starchy one. The secret is in the dough, but little tricks in the baking process can add some panache as well.
A good base recipe includes milk, butter, brown sugar, flour, salt, and yeast. Next, warm the milk and butter in a separate pan, then dissolve a little brown sugar in the mixture. After that, fill a mixing bowl with flour, yeast and salt. Once that dry mixture is thoroughly mixed, slowly introduce the milk and butter combination. Mix until the dough is tacky, or in other words, sticky but not too sticky.
These simple ingredients will get you well on the path to a fluffy, home-baked soft pretzel. However, there are a few tricks you can follow to amp up your pretzels’ quality. After you let your dough sit, rise, and deflate, roll it into long, thin ropes. Dip these ropes in a water and baking soda solution before folding them into their signature pretzel shape. This soda solution will give your pretzels that delectable golden brown color while they’re baking. Also, the sodium bicarbonate in the baking soda solution will help the salt stick to the dough better. Oh, and speaking of salt, remember to sprinkle it on before you bake these bad boys for ten to 12 minutes.
Twelve long, hungry minutes later, and your soft pretzels are almost ready. All that’s left to do is lightly brush the pretzels with butter so you can add a light, flaky finishing touch.
Where Can I Buy Soft Pretzels?
So maybe the process of baking your soft pretzels sounds like too much work. We can’t entirely blame you, and that’s precisely why we’ve rounded up a list of the best gourmet pretzels you can find out there.
J and J Snacks makes a great frozen soft pretzel. Don’t let the word ‘frozen’ fool you: these hand-twisted pretzels come pre-baked, so all you have to do is warm them up to restore them to their warm, fluffy goodness. Just make sure to mist the pretzels before you bake them; this will minimize the chances of them getting too dry or stiff in the oven.
Another excellent choice is any soft pretzel from a Philadelphia street vendor. Philly is known for more than their brotherly love; the home of the soft pretzel has made quite a name for itself through this doughy treat. Expert pretzel munchers agree that a good Philly soft pretzel is soft, hot, and chewy, and free of any visible moisture. If you see any “beads of sweat” on the pretzel, it means they’ve been sitting out and hardening for a while. Best to pass these up.
If you’re looking to send gourmet pretzels as a gift, choose Eastern Standard Provisions’ Gourmet Soft Pretzel Gift Box. These hand-twisted pretzels fuse the light, airy texture of brioche with a traditional Bavarian crust, making it a sure hit with anybody lucky enough to try them.