Lenten Soft Pretzels
Perfect for Lent, homemade pretzels are a great way to jump into bread baking. Pretzels are historically associated with Lent, as their traditional shape is meant to look like arms folded in prayer (with a twist!). This easy recipe makes chewy yeasted homemade soft pretzels in only 40 minutes. My kids love to help make the Lenten pretzels, even if the ones they make don’t necessarily end up looking exactly pretzel-like. Don’t be scared of the baking soda bath. That’s what gives the pretzels their dark brown color and distinctive chewy texture. You can do it!
- Stand mixer
- Measuring glasses
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Large stock pot
- Bowl of water for salting
- Ingredient bowls
For the pretzels:
- 1 ½ cups Warm Water (around 100°F)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons Instant or Active Dry Yeast (1 standard packet)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted and slightly cool
- 3 ¾ – 4 cups All-Purpose Flour Spoon & Level (plus more for rolling)
- Coarse Salt (for sprinkling)
For the baking soda bath:
- ½ cup Baking Soda
- 9 cups Water
Make the dough:
- Combine the yeast, water, salt, brown sugar, and melted butter in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add one cup of flour and mix with a wooden spoon or the dough hook attachment of the mixer. Repeat with the second and third cups of flour. Then add more flour ¼ cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky and you can poke it with your finger and it will bounce back. Knead the dough in the mixer or by hand on a floured surface for three minutes. Form the dough into a ball on your work surface, wrap it lightly with a tea towel, and leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
Prepare the baking soda bath:
- Combine the ½ cup baking soda and 9 cups of water in a large pot on the stove, and bring it to a low boil. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. After the dough has rested, roll it into a log and cut it into 12 equal pieces (each about ⅓ cup, about 2.7 grams). Dust each piece lightly with flour and roll it into a rope 20-22 inches long. To make the pretzel shape: lift the two ends of the rope, forming a U shape; cross the ends over once, then cross them over again; then fold them down towards you and lay the ends on the bottom curve of the U. Place the shaped pretzels on the prepared baking sheets.
- Two at a time, use a slotted spatula to lower the shaped pretzels into the simmering baking soda bath. Leave them in for 20-30 seconds (a quick Hail Mary + Our Father). Scoop them out, let the water drain, and place them back on the baking sheet. Sprinkle each pretzel with coarse salt. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the pretzels from the baking sheets and place them on cooling racks to avoid a soggy bottom. Serve the pretzels warm or room temperature, with mustard or cheese sauce for dipping. And be sure to say your prayers!