Soft Pretzels

There are few things I love more than bread, in any of its various forms. Today, it took the form of a pretzel. I made soft pretzels once before, a long time ago, using Martha Stewart’s online recipe. This time, I decided to try my own version. There wasn’t much to veganize, since pretzel dough is basically just flour, yeast, and water. Usually, soft pretzels are brushed with egg before they go in the oven, which makes them shiny. I just brushed them with melted Earth Balance when they came out of the oven. Shine accomplished.

Is the flower overkill? I'm new at this.


1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs active dry yeast

4 1/4 cups flour

1 tbs salt

canola oil (for coating the bowl)

a few cups water for boiling

2 tbs baking soda

coarse sea salt

sesame seeds and poppy seeds (optional)

3-4 tbs Earth Balance (melted)


1. Dissolve sugar in 1 1/2 cups warm water, add yeast, set aside until it’s foamy. When it’s ready, it should look like this:

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of flour and 1 tbs salt. Make a little well in the flour mixture and pour the foamy yeast mixture into it:

3. Stir with a spatula to combine the dough as best you can. When it becomes too difficult to keep stirring, it’s time to start kneading with your hands. It might look sort of scrappy…

…but don’t worry. Just turn it out on a clean, dry, and lightly floured surface and start kneading. If the dough feels sticky, add a little more flour. You shouldn’t need more than that last 1/4 cup though. After 3-4 minutes of kneading, the dough should be smooth and well combined.

4. Lightly coat the inside of a bowl with canola oil and place your dough ball inside. Then turn the dough ball upside down so that the top and bottom have a little canola oil. Cover your bowl with saran wrap and place in a warm, dark place. If you don’t have a warm, dark place, you can turn your oven on for a minute, turn it off again, and put your bowl in there. (That’s a trick that I learned from one of my favorite blogs, VeganYumYum.) Let the dough rise until it approximately doubles in size, about one hour. When it’s done rising, you should be able to press the dough ball with your finger and it will dent, not spring back up.

5. Now punch the dough down to deflate it, and knead it just two or three times. Then you’re ready to divide the dough into sections for each pretzel. I used thread to cut through the dough, and I divided it into eight smaller dough balls. Each made a pretzel that was just a little smaller than what you’d see at the mall. I made four pretzels today and I froze the other four dough balls to make later.

6. Now for the fun part! If you already know how to twist dough into pretzels, of course you should just do it and skip reading this step. But for the twist-untrained, look! I have illustrations!

Roll out each dough ball into a long rope. It should be about 2 feet long, or just a few inches less.

Cross the ends to make your rope into a loop:

Cross the ends again to add a twist:

Finally, take the top two corners of the loop and bring them down below the ends. If it helps, you could imagine a horizontal line right above the twist you created, and fold your dough in half along that line:

7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

8. Fill a large sauce pan with water and 2 tbs baking soda, and bring it to a boil. The water doesn’t have to be very deep; the pot just has to be wide enough to fit at least one pretzel. Once the water boils, bring it down to a simmer.

9. Gently place a pretzel in the water/baking soda. Be careful not to splash hot water on yourself! After about 30 seconds, use tongs or a slotted spoon to flip the pretzel over. After another 30 seconds, take the pretzel out of the water and place it on a greased baking sheet or a silpat. Repeat this step for all the pretzels. (If your pot’s big enough, you could do more than one at a time). This step poaches the pretzel, cooking the outside a little but leaving the inside soft and doughy.

10. When all of your pretzels are poached, sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. I also dipped one in sesame seeds, and my favorite one was sprinkled with poppy seeds. I didn’t try one with cinnamon and sugar, but I bet that would be good!

11. Bake your pretzels for 10-11 minutes at 450 degrees, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

I melted about 3 tbs Earth Balance and brushed it over the pretzels when they came out of the oven. Serve warm, with mustard, if you choose.


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