The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts
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Stephmo's picture

I love soft pretzels - who doesn't?  I just never seem to get them outside of fair settings.

And then the other week, Alton Brown did a show on homemade pretzels - it was a sign! So I went to the food network's site and I grabbed the recipe. (

The Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water

1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (note, I simply used Kosher salt)

ALTON: Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.

So Alton's all into proofing the yeast - and I must say that I only do this because the instructions say so.  At some point I'll stop since I'm really only convinced this is a leftover from poor production methods of old - but look, it bubbles:

ALTON: Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Now it's all about letting the KitchenAid do the work. I add the melted butter and the flour. You may notice Alton's recipe does specify flour by weight. I actually do have a scale where I can zero out my mixing bowl with ingredients, so I'm able to pour 22 ounces of flour exactly. From here, I let the mixer do it's thing for 5 minutes until the dough is nice and ready:

ALTON: Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Rising time. Recipe calls for an hour, but this is fast-acting - in 30 minutes, I'm more than doubled:

ALTON: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

I tear my into 8 pieces and lightly oil my counter so I can roll these into ropes and form them into pretzel shapes. I'll admit that it's not as supple as I'm expecting it to be, but that's okay. While I do this, I have water boiling on the stove and the oven preheating:

Hint from me to you - do put in the baking soda before the water is boiling - if you think you see white crusty stuff on the sides of the pot, you do. I added the baking soda while the water was boiling and got a mini-science experiment. Luckily no spillover, but I laughed. I basically boiled each pretzel for 30 seconds and scooped it out with a wire scoop (this gives the pretzel texture):

At this point, I give the pretzels an egg wash and bake them for 13 minutes. Look what I get:

If you're wondering - but is it a chewy, doughy piece of pretzel goodness? Well - take a look at this crumb:

Yes, this is good stuff - I will be making this again!


gladys51633's picture

artesian bread

February 14, 2009 - 3:20pm -- gladys51633

i want to know how long you bake a loaf of this bread that you can make in a bucket,, and at the oven degrees? i made some and it didn't get brown why it was done just lite in color and i put water in pan underneath the dough cooking

thank you


ukaiukai's picture

Replacing butter with flax seed meal

February 14, 2009 - 2:28pm -- ukaiukai

I have been trying to replace the butter in a whole grain bread recipe with a sufficient amount of flax seed (1 tablesppon of butter to 3 of flax seed). Unfortunately, the bread doesn't seem to rise as as much as I need it to.  I bake this break for PB&J sandwiches and the little sandwiches are sort of sad.  The original recipe is:

3/4 c water

1.5(minus 3 Tbs) c WW flour

3 Tbs wheat gluten

1/2 c oat flour

1/4 c almond flour

1.5 Tbs dried milk powder

jimmykx250's picture


February 14, 2009 - 9:33am -- jimmykx250

I use instant dry yeast Block form you get at sams club. I keep the bulk in the freezer and keep about a half a cup in the fridge. This is what i use to make bread. I usually pull it and use it right away but fail to get a good oven spring. My dough usually doubles when in its first and second rise but never springs in the oven. I know i dont need to mix it with liquid like the other kinds of yeasts. I just throw this stuff in the flour and mix all ingredients together.HELP!!!

baltochef's picture

Is It Possible to Long Bulk Room Temperature Ferment Sweeter, Richer Doughs??

February 14, 2009 - 7:09am -- baltochef

I read the recent thread on long bulk room temperature fermentation of lean doughs with great interest..It is more, or less, accepted fact within the bread baking community that sweeter doughs will derive the majority of their flavor components from the sugars, fats, milks, dried fruits, eggs, and spices that are added to these doughs..Thus, they are generally made with short fermentation times..

firefighter12's picture

Chewy or Chrusty? Is it possible to have both?

February 13, 2009 - 7:04pm -- firefighter12

I have not been baking bread for very long, but I do believe that I have done a very good job. My bread comes out beautifully, it taste great, and my wife loves the house smelling like fresh bread. I have read so much on different techniques on baking bread in the general since but have yet to come across something or someone that can shed some light on how i can make my bread have a hard yet soft chewy crust. Mine always comes out of the oven hard but as I let it cool it becomes soft, but it still is very chewy. Please help someone!

plnelson's picture

Sticky Newbie

February 13, 2009 - 6:54pm -- plnelson

I'm a beginner at breadmaking and I like to eat hearty whole grain and multigrain breads.   When I try to make my own they come out hard and dense.  

Today I tried a new recipe -  the "Loaf for Learning" from the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book.   It actually came out better than any other attempt I've made so far!  So that's the good news.   


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