There’s nothing quite like a soft, fluffy pretzel right out of the oven! Since moving to Japan there are a few things that I miss from America. It’s also a lot of fun being able to share my culture with my husband who has never been to America. The first time we made pretzels, we devoured half the batch in one sitting. Since then, this recipe has become a staple in our house.
Warm As a Hug Pretzels
This recipe will make eight medium-sized pretzels.
100ml warm water
4 tsp sugar
7g dry active or instant yeast
500g bread flour
28g melted butter (cooled)
Baking Soda Bath
100g baking soda
First, mix the wet ingredients. Ensure that the water is warm, not hot. We want to wake up the yeast and hot water can kill it. The sugar is important in giving the yeast energy. It has a tough job ahead of it, after all!
Next, mix the 500g of flour and 1tsp of salt in a different bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave but allow it to cool before adding it to the bowl.
Check to see if the yeast is alive by looking for bubbles at the surface of the water. If there are bubbles, you can add it to the dry ingredients. If there are no bubbles then the yeast most likely has died. Unfortunately, this means you have to throw it out and start over.
Once you’ve incorporated the wet and dry, add in the extra 200ml of water. Mix everything together using either a stand mixer with a bread hook or by hand. A stand mixer takes about ten minutes. By hand can take thirty minutes. (As someone who doesn’t have a stand mixer, it’s hard work, but totally worth it. Plus, you build up muscles in your arms and abs!)
To know if you’re done kneading, do the windowpane test. Pull a part of the bread. It should hold up and not break apart. You should also be able to “see through it” like a windowpane.
Once you have a doughy windowpane, it’s time to let it rest and rise. Put the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover it lightly with saran wrap. If you live in a warm climate or your home is warm, simply let it rest on the counter.
If you live in Japan like me, or in a home not so well insulated, you can put the dough in a pre-warmed oven. My “oven” has a setting of 40°C (100°F) that works perfectly at helping the dough rise without killing it.
When the dough has doubled in size, take it out and check to see if it has finished rising. Flour your finger or knuckle then give the dough a gentle poke. If the dough springs back with energy then it needs a bit more time to finish. Wrap it up and set it aside. However, if the dough seems slow and the indentation remains, the dough is ready to go.
You might even give the dough a FEW pokes just to make sure.
This would also be a good time to get the pot of water boiling on the stove. Also, go ahead and preheat your oven to 220°C (425°F).
Divide the finished dough into eight pieces. Roll them out to at least 50cm (20in) ropes. Make a long U shape with the dough then twist the ends together two times. Bring the twists down to the bottom and you should have a pretzel shape.
Remember that boiling water? (It’s probably going wild waiting.) You can gently pour in the baking soda and give it a swirl. I suggest grabbing a mesh strainer to help ease the pretzels down into the water and prevent splashing. Otherwise, tongs or a large spoon is just as good!
Now it’s time to boil the pretzels. One or two at a time, ease the pretzels into the boiling baking soda. Boil it for fifteen seconds then flip it over to boil the other side for fifteen seconds. Take the boiled pretzels and set them aside to dry. This is a good time to brush on some melted butter and sprinkle on some salt. My favorite salt for this recipe is a Himalayan salt grinder. It leaves big chunks of salt on the surface, adding an extra burst of flavor.
Now the easy part! Put the pretzels into the oven for 15-20minutes. Definitely keep an eye on it. You want a nice golden crust that is darkening into brown. When you take them out, give them a final brush of melted butter and salt. If you’re tempted, you can even eat them while they’re still in the pan.
Some things are just too good to wait any longer for.
I hope you find yourself in the kitchen soon with a bag of flour and a cup of inspiration. Hopefully the floor doesn’t end up all over the floor and your clothes. Definitely speaking from experience.
If you enjoyed this recipe, leave a comment below! Also, what’s your family’s most beloved baked good? I’m always interested in trying new food!
I’m Aspen Kumagai, an American living in Japan. Over four years ago, I made the craziest and best decision of my life. I hopped on a plane to chase my dreams and met the love of my life. Now I spend my days traveling across Japan, searching for my next favorite dish, and desperately trying to read the Japanese directions on the back of my face cleanser. Thank god for google translate.
Whether in the kitchen or on a mountaintop, I’m here to inspire you with home-cooked recipes, travel tips, and lifestyle hacks. I share my adventures (and my many mistakes) about living in a foreign country.
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