What’s not to love about a sourdough soft pretzel? You know that glossy brown exterior with the distinct chewy flavor? Then you tear it open and the soft layers inside are just begging to be dipped into the vinegary tang of a spicy mustard! So good! So delicious! Even better, so easy to make! Here at South Shore Kitchen we have come up with an amazing recipe for sourdough soft pretzels. No need to buy any harsh chemicals or safety glasses to whip up your newest favorite snack. Our recipe uses ingredients you will find in a well-stocked pantry.
Have you ever attempted to make soft pretzels in the past only to taste them and realize you spent a whole lot of time baking some really fancy looking bread sticks? We have, more than we care to admit, but luckily for everyone we have really stumbled upon greatness here. Sourdough soft pretzels that actually taste like pretzels. So much so, we actually surprised ourselves.
A lot of factors come into play on creating the perfect flavor but starting with a sturdy foundation is where all-purpose flour comes into play. It must be all-purpose flour. Can I use bread flour instead? Nope, it does not work. The dough will be way too soft to handle. It won’t hold its shape when poaching. Nor, will it have that distinct pretzel goodness flavor when they are done baking. Trust us, we have already made all of the mistakes, so you don’t have to.
We Wouldn’t Lye To You
Traditionally, pretzels are dipped in a food grade lye bath to produce the signature brown and chewy exterior pretzels are known for. While it creates a tasty result, sodium hydroxide isn’t something everyone keeps on hand. Our objective was to come up with a recipe that came as close to a traditional exterior as possible. After a few tries the best combination we came up with was using a small of barley malt syrup in the dough and baking soda in the poaching bath to achieve a golden chewy exterior.
If you are asking, “what the heck is barley malt syrup?”. It is an unrefined sweetener made from the sprouted barley grains. It gives the pretzels a little extra depth of flavor and helps with the browning. You can find it easily at your local home brewing supply store or on Amazon.
Twisting your pretzels into shape is fairly easy once you get the hang of it. For a traditional twist roll out your dough to a long piece approx. 16” in length and 1 ½” thick, make a U shape. Twist the ends of the U twice and then attach the two ends to the bottom of the U. Check out this Canadian Living video if you are struggling with shaping the pretzels. Have some fun and make them any shape you would like. Our favorite is the pretzel bites!
Give them a try today, even your pickiest eater will be asking for you to make them again. For real, that actually happened to us! Comment down below and tell us your favorite pretzel dipping sauces. If you tried our recipe give @thesouthshorekitchen a tag on Instagram. We would love to see what you made.Print
Sourdough Soft Pretzels
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp butter, room temp, cubed (goes in at the end of mixing the dough)
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- ½ cup water, 110 degrees F
- ½ cup whole milk, 110 degrees F
- 1 tsp yeast
- 8 grams malted barley syrup, approx. ½ teaspoon
- 1 1/2 cup sourdough starter
- 4 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 6–10 cups of water
- 1 egg, beaten
- Large grain salt for sprinkling
In a small bowl, stir together milk, water, brown sugar, malted barley syrup, and melted butter. Give a quick mix to dissolve the sugar granules. Then stir in yeast to activate. Let sit until yeast becomes foamy.
While waiting for yeast to activate add AP flour and salt to your stand mixer and give it a quick whisk. Using the dough hook attachment, pour yeast mixture into your flour and mix on lowest setting for 2-3 minutes or combined.
Then add cubed room temperature butter one piece at a time and mix on a medium speed until butter is incorporated. Turn mixer down to the lowest speed setting and knead until dough is smooth and shiny.
The dough should be well mixed, pull away from the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom. If your dough hard and pulling away from the sides and bottom of the bowl, add water 1 tsp at a time, mix well and then check the dough. In the event your dough is too wet, use the same process adding flour 1 tsp at a time.
Line a large sheet pan with a non-stick baking sheet or greased parchment paper. Take your dough ball and cut into pieces that weigh approx. 125 grams. Shape each piece of dough into a 8-10 inch log shape. Place on your sheet pan. Continue for all remaining pieces of dough. Cover sheet pan and set in warm place to rise for 1 ½-2 hours or until they pass the poke test. Using your index finger lightly press down on the dough. If the dough springs back, they are not finished rising. You want to leave an indent on the surface of your dough.
When dough is almost done rising prepare poaching liquid by adding water and granulated sugar. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and carefully stir in baking soda. Be extra careful because the baking soda will bubble up when added to the hot water. Return to heat and maintain a low boil. Set a wire cooling rack next to your stovetop.
Preheat oven to 450° F.
On a lightly floured surface work each piece of dough into a long rope approx. 1 ½ inches in diameter and 16-20 inches long and then shape.
After all the dough is shaped, poach each pretzel piece for one minute. Turning if necessary. You will have to do this in several batches. Do not leave them in poaching liquid for too long otherwise the outside will have a gummy texture. After 1 minute remove from poaching liquid, transfer to wire rack and let drain
Once all your pretzel pieces have drained place them of your prepared sheet pan. Brush with egg, sprinkle with salt and place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Once golden brown remove from oven and place pretzels on wire baking sheet. Best when served warm. Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce.