MAKING PRETZELS – Marilyn Armstrong

We like pretzels. One of the things I really miss is fresh warm pretzels, the kind we used to buy at the old mall in Auburn. I don’t know if the mall is open or will open. It was barely functioning before the COVID-19 shutdown. It’s an aging mall in a bad location, not convenient to any major road. Very hard to find, even when you’ve been there often.

Inside the mall

Their two lead stores were Macy’s and Sears and I’m not sure either of those will survive because both are currently in bankruptcy. What they had going for them was a kiosk where you could always get a new watch battery, a LensCrafters, plus another kiosk where they made warm pretzels while you waited. Oh so good.

I wanted pretzels and as it happened, I came across a recipe on a CBS site.

This is the recipe:

Homemade Soft Pretzel Ingredients

1-1/2 cups warm (110° to 115° F) water
1 tablespoon white sugar (Too much sugar — use half that amount)
1 package active dry yeast (2 ½ teaspoons)
22 ounces all-purpose flour, about 4 1/2 cups (1 cup = 8 ounces, so how can 4-1/2 cups = 22 ounces?)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (Don’t measure the salt. Just shake it onto the pretzels and don’t be shy about it)
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil or cooking spray (Cooking spray works better)
10 cups water for boiling the pretzels — not part of the recipe
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (for topping) (Kosher salt)

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar, and yeast, stirring gently to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and butter. Use dough hooks and mix on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Take a big bowl and oil it. You can use an oil spray. There’s no reason to take it out of one bowl, put it in another, then put it into another bowl that you had to clean. Twice the work for no good reason.  Remove the dough, wipe out the bowl and then oil it with a little vegetable oil or cooking spray. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap,
  4. Cover the bowl and put it in a warm place for about an hour 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size (more or less).
  5. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet. One big cookie sheet is plenty.
  6. Lightly brush with vegetable oil or lightly coat with cooking spray.
  7. Bring the water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  8. Gently whisk egg yolk and water together and set aside.
  9. While the water heats up, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled floured work surface. Oil your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Divide into 8 pieces, as many as seem reasonable.
  10. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope about 24” long. (Do whatever you want!)Make a U-shape with the dough rope, and holding the ends, cross them over each other and press on the bottom of the U to form the shape of a pretzel.
  11. Place on the prepared cookie pan.
  12. Lower the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for about 30 seconds each, turning over with a slotted spoon about half-way through. Remove them from the water using a slotted spoon or spider, allowing excess water to drain off. NOTE: I put in three at a time which was fine.
  13. Brush each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk (I used a small paintbrush) and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes (it took closer to 20 minutes. Just keep an eye on them and you’ll know when they are done.
  14. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Despite the years I spent baking, I had forgotten how much work it is. I also forgot what a mess it makes. At least I had the sense to change my clothing before I started By the time I finished, it was obvious what I’d been doing. Though I’ve washed my hands repeatedly, I’ve still got dough under my nails.

I also, since there is no yeast in the stores, I used yeast I’ve had in the fridge since 2009. You wouldn’t think it would work, but it did.

I didn’t try for the classic pretzel shape. By the time I had gotten to that point, I was ready to nap on the kitchen floor. I just made them into a circle then twisted them. I got better at it as I worked.

I boiled the pretzels, baked the pretzels and we ate ALL the pretzels instead of dinner. Junk food makes a great dinner, especially when it’s your own junk food. I have to find a better recipe. Or maybe I just buy some pretzels, assuming someone is selling them.

Why did I pick the hottest day since last July to bake? All I wanted warm, soft pretzels. Desperation drove me.

Categories: baking, Food, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography, Recipes

Tags: , , , , ,

49 replies

  1. I like making pretzels and your but I am being devious. I wrote a post called “Sinner Donald Trump Should Be More Nervous Than A Whore in Church” and posted it to FB for Monday and promptly got blocked for two days for violating social standards…… so I renamed it “Jesus and Judge Roy Bean Had Trump’s Number Years Ago” … and posted it again. Although I thought I deleted old one, the new version shows up as being posted four days ago so nobody is opening it… what did I do wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rewrite it a little and post it again. I sometimes have to post it a few times before I get any reaction. I have posts I have reposted a dozen times and I get 150 hits one day and zero on another. Sometimes, people aren’t reading. For whatever reason, they aren’t reading. Also, Facebook just reorganized itself so at least on the Mac, it’s all different. It looks normal on my PC, but very strange on my Mac.

      There really is no explaining why a post is popular or not. I know this because I post the same story with various titles and get big responses and tiny responses — and it’s the same post.

      It’s like movies that get bad reviews when they open and became classics and everyone has a copy of it somewhere. “Tombstone,” for example was swamped by Kevin Costner’s determination to make his drab version of Wyatt Earp the big movie of the year. Tombstone was nearly pushed olut of the theater, but today, NO ONE watches Wyatt Earp and Tombstone is our fallback violence fix along with “The Magnificent Seven” and a couple of classic Arnold Schwartzneggers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nat, you have the same sense of humor I have — that sense of humor that drove DI’s nuts long ago in USMC basic training. Good for you.
      Donzo has no sense of humor. Probably his bone spurs acting up again. The DI’s would’ve had fun would Orange Head. How many pushups from young Donzo?


  2. They look delicious but I don’t need the calories….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I so get this, Marilyn. every word of it and now I want a fresh, soft, salty pretzel!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh wow – they look amazing! I can smell them all the way from the UK – I wish I could come to your house! Well done for making them, and I can see they were worth all the work and the mess. It must have been quite satisfying to produce them at home, and now you don’t have to miss them. I’ll have to have a go when I’ve got my last essay out of the way. Great stuff, and a real treat. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alli, Marilyn could market her pretzels — So tasty, yummy.

      More, salt pretzels, Marilyn!!


      • That’s funny Garry – I had the same thought! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        • When I was in Israel — and when I was VERY into baking — I was offered enough money to open a bakery. I really WAS that good. Of course, that was more than 30 years ago and I’m a little off my game after all these decades. BUT. I said no. Professional baking is exhausting. You are up before dawn … LONG before dawn … to get your yeast rising and even with the most modern equipment, you have to have your bread ready for distribution by dawn. I suppose if you want to run one small bakery, you could adjust your hours a bit … but not much. Bakeries open very early.

          People want bread for breakfast and on their way to work. Pies and cakes can wait untii late morning, but bread is early, the earlier the better. That’s why they always run out of the good stuff before I make it to the stores.

          I remember standing outside the pita bakery by Damascus Gate to get those hot pitas right out of the oven, served only with spices. Oh may, that was SO good. Most great baking is done is old-fashioned coal-fired ovens, NOT big electric or gas-fired machines. That’s why the great pizza of the world is made is little shops with a coal-fired oven. And rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, you can’t hand over your bakery to other people. They won’t care as you do. I think caring is what makes the bread so good.

          I thought about how long my days would be, how exhausted I would be. I knew the bread would sell because Jerusalemites LOVE bread. Every kind of bread. Unsliced, still warm.

          I could have been a baker, but writing is a whole lot easier and probably pays better, too 😀

          Liked by 2 people

          • That kind of baking sounds wonderful, and I have to agree totally. The flat breads and oatcakes I made recently with my medieval cooking kit outdoors over a real fire were amazing, so authentic and full of flavour.

            As I’ve made a lot of my own bread over the past decade I thought about starting a micro-bakery too, but decided not to for exactly the same reasons as you – I couldn’t be doing with getting up that early! 🙂


          • Marilyn, you had/have the secret weapon for Middle East problems. Those pretzels would make Israel and its enemies say a collective “Uncle!” in exchange for a big stash of your pretzels.


        • Alli, great minds think alike.
          Reminds me of the wonderful smell of fresh baking bread.

          Years and years ago, when I was working “The Dawn Patrol Shift” in TV News, I could smell the bread baking in a factory not far from the TV station. I was hungry before my first live shot.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Great minds indeed, Garry. And I can imagine how you felt on the Dawn Patrol Shift – there’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread to get the tummy rumbling in the morning! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I managed to get yeast after complaining about not having it for two months so I should make something with it. Flour is no longer a problem. I don’t eat a lot of salty treats, I like them but they don’t like me. You know how it is with those things, you can’t just eat a couple. I am curious as to what Kosher salt is, either we call it something else or I just don’t know because I hardly put any salt in food. I think I have some sea salt but otherwise just table salt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Michael and I learned to make giant pretzels last year, Marilyn. It was good fun. I am pleased to have your recipe because I have no idea what I did with the one we used before and I think I should try these again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just note my correction. It’s definitely 4-1/2 cups of flour, NOT 22 ounces. Typo? They made the recipe unnecessarily complicated. Also, I briefly baked the pretzels (I think I forgot for a moment that the only two kinds of bread that are boiled are bagels and pretzels) for like 5 minutes before boiling them. This way they held together when dropped into the boiling water. Whoever wrote out the recipe either never used it, never baked, or forgot to mention basics — like kneading. But since you know how, you’ll work your way around the errors. I hadn’t done any yeast baking in more than 30 years except in a bread machine and even I figured out what was wrong. I just ordered more yeast. I think it’s time to try to get back into it 🙂 I hope I can get more flour, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for pointing out the error, Marilyn. I can usually fix errors in recipes as I go along as you have done. We are also baking bread because you can’t buy baked loaves only sliced bread that comes pre-packed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I gave in and order yeast and flour, neither of which are available in the grocery. The prices are SO high now it’s scary. I have to also order some whole wheat flour and I need some big containers to hold the flour and keep it dry. Maybe some burghul too — makes the whole wheat a little bit crunchy 😀

          Liked by 1 person

    • Roberta, please ship us a batch of your pretzels and we’ll give it the taste test. Trust me. I’ll even endorse them. My name is still worth something. Fresh salted pretzels. Top of the world, Roberta!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Baking is hot work. And yeast breads are double the work. But when you crave something, you gotta make your own. They do look good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Except for using their sugar measurement, they were just about perfect. Half the sugar would have done the job. And yes. VERY hot work!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Somehow, people are using this time to make bread. You have to search very hard to find yeast, or even flour!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I finally ordered flour (20 lbs) and yeast (1 pound) from Amazon. It’s easier to get huge containers — like 25 to 50 lbs — at a time than 5 pounds. I don’t mind getting a lot, but I don’t know where I would keep it. When you start to add up the cost of containers to keep your flour dry, it’s a whole new world. Every loaf of homemade bread costs at least triple what the cheap and full of chemical bread you get pre-packaged. I also need to find some lost recipes. There was one amazing recipe that was in my 1935 cookbook and I have never found it again. It produced muffins that tasted like heaven.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I have my mom’s cook book from a year before I was born. It uses simple ingredients and every time the end result is great.
            Storing 20 pounds of flour will be a problem.


            • I used to make pretzels too. and enjoyed it very much. I like your recipe by the way. I may have to revisit and write it down so I can give it a go. Yum. It was the same here, only not pretzels, it was cheeze muffins that were to die for. A friend visited once after I’d made mine and she asked where on earth I got the recipe. Woodwards made them exactly the same and she’d always go there for some. I gave her the recipe.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I found a set of four 10 pounds bins for $25 and a bunch of 5 pounders to contain sugar and other stuff for about $8.50. The 20 pounds of white flour will go into two containers. The 8 pounds of whole wheat flour will go into one more and the forth? Maybe I’ll decide to get some rye — but rye spoils easily. White flour keeps almost forever, but all the dark (natural) flours have a much shorter lifespan unless you freeze them. Not enough room for an extra freezer, either.

              Liked by 1 person

    • Sadje, it’s not easy – the baking – on a warm, humid day. Marilyn and Owen looked like cousins of the Pillsbury. No worries. I did the taste test for them. Hard chore, Yeah!

      Liked by 1 person

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