Friday, June 1, 2012

Fabulous Friday Food {guest post} - Julia's Soft Pretzels

Today I want to welcome a very special guest blogger--my daughter, Julia. Julia is a fantastic baker. She started playing around in the kitchen a few years ago, and now, at the age of 14, Julia can do pretty much anything she sets her mind to. Which brings us to her recipe for today.

The first time Julia made these soft pretzels was, as she says below, on Superbowl Sunday this year. I had been on a retreat all weekend and walked in the door exhausted. As soon as I stepped inside our house I smelled yeast dough. I couldn't believe it! My daughter had experimented with yeast, and I wasn't even around to help her with it.

To the surprise and delight of everyone in this house, Julia's pretzels were amazing. Chewy on the outside; soft and delicious on the inside. I'm not kidding when I say that these are so delicious. Why not have your own kid try them today? ;)

Everyone, meet Julia.

I love to bake. There’s something that’s very satisfying when some soft dough turns into bread, or when smooth batter turns into cake. It’s amazing! It’s science at its best. So, this year for Superbowl Sunday, I decided to bake up a classic snack food: soft pretzels. I used Alton Brown’s recipe, but tweaked it just a tiny bit. The result was delicious, beautiful soft pretzels that are so easy, a fourteen-year-old can do it! My family loves them so much, I have made them twice since. I’m sure you’ll love them too!

First you want to make the dough. Start by combining 1 ½ cups of warm water, one tablespoon of sugar, two teaspoons of kosher salt, and one package of active dry yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

                  Let it sit for about five minutes, or until it begins to foam.

                  Next, add 4 ½ cups of bread flour (you can use all-purpose flour, but bread flour makes it softer) and four tablespoons of melted butter to the mixture. Combine it with a bread hook for about five minutes. You have your dough!

                  Now cover the dough and allow it to rise for one to two hours, or until it has doubled in size. This step is difficult for me because I am not a very patient girl!

After it has risen, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and either spray with Pam (the easy way) or brush with vegetable oil (the right way). I use Pam. Now put about ten cups of water into a large saucepan. Add 2/3 of a cup of baking soda and bring to a rolling boil. Yes, 2/3 of a cup. I know that’s a crazy amount of baking soda, but that’s what makes these pretzels taste like pretzels, not just bread. The water should look like this:

                  While this is happening, separate your dough into little balls, depending on how many pretzels you want. Roll them out into a rope, and make them into a pretzel shape! Now put the pretzels in one by one into the water for about thirty seconds.

                  This seems to take forever, so I took a stool over to my stovetop!

(Isn't she just the cutest thing?!)

                  After all of them have been boiled, brush them with a simple egg wash, just one egg yolk plus one tablespoon of water. Cover them all with a pastry brush. This gives them that golden brown color. Sprinkle with kosher salt, and they’re ready to bake!

They bake for about twelve to fourteen minutes. When they come out, they look like this:

                  These pretzels are a delicious snack perfect for parties and more. They are easy to make and so tasty! I highly recommend them. 

So there you have it: Julia's (via Alton Brown) soft pretzels. I call that Pretzel Perfection. Enjoy!


  1. These look so delicious, Julia.

    Great job ... you are a wonderful teacher.

  2. Julia: When I saw the first picture of the finished pretzels, I literally GASPED. They are so beautiful!!!!

    I will definitely try these!! Thanks for baking and sharing.

    (I have a 13-year-old who loves to cook, too!)


  3. Julia, Those look so so good and our family loves soft pretzles! If you can do it, I might be able to also...I showed my girls the pictures and they were very impressed with "Miss Julia" (and they wanted to walk to your house to try them!)

  4. Great post, Julia! And great pics, too!!! Well done! Can't wait to try the recipe. :-)

  5. Thank you, Julia!

    I just LOVE it when someone else uses one of Alton's recipe and tweaks it a bit. We love Alton, but his recipes can be a bit labor-intensive. So if someone else has already figured out the tweaks, it's awesome! Thank you for sharing this--I'm going to make some soon! We all love soft pretzels. :)

  6. Wow! I am so impressed! Wish I lived closer and I'd come over and get one of those delicious looking pretzels! Your daughter looks amazing! I have a pretty amazing daughter myself :0! Blessings to you!

  7. I'm really impressed! Alas, I don't have a bread hook so I will have to keep this recipe in the back of my mind until I acquire the right kitchen accessories.

  8. Good job Juj! I think I will give these a try! Love you!

  9. Well done, Julia. These look delish! I can't wait to try them!

  10. You made some beautiful pretzels! I made them many years ago and I don't think they looked that pretty. I bet they taste yummy too! I may have to try it again.