I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t nostalgic about one of the most common childhood snacks: pretzels.
I remember those crunchy, salty lunchbox snacks being the perfect accompaniment to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And there were so many different kinds—twists and snaps and sticks and nuggets and rods, oh my!
And then, even better, was the soft version. You know, like the kind you’d get at the mall or amusement parks or sporting events or the school carnival? Or, if you just couldn’t wait, the frozen kind you could nuke in the microwave, like the famous SuperPretzel?
With its salted, crusty exterior and its interior chewy goodness, the soft pretzel has been winning over hearts for years—about 1,400 to be exact (more or less). The origins of the soft pretzel can be traced back to the 600’s, when the Catholic Church had much stricter fasting rules for Lent. Due to their simple ingredients of flour, salt, and water, pretzels were a go-to food during the 40-day period, when all types of meat, dairy, and eggs were prohibited.
Since yesterday marked the beginning of Lent, I figured an Easy Homemade Soft Pretzel recipe would be perfect to share for today’s Throwback Thursday post. These take a little extra time to make, but it is so worth it! My daughter had fun helping me drop them in their baking soda bath (Don’t skip this step! It’s crucial to getting that golden crust.) And be warned, they’re so good you might find yourself eating more than you should—and didn’t you just do that for Fat Tuesday?
While I made mine the savory type, you could also top them with cinnamon sugar for a sweet treat instead.
Easy Homemade Soft Pretzels
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
21/2 cups flour (bread flour works best)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
7 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
Sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Place yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl, and pour warm water over the mixture. Let proof until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Whisk in butter and stir in flour and salt until well combined. With floured hands, form dough into a moist ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
3. Bring 7 cups water and 1/3 cup baking soda to a slight boil in a large pot, and then heat to medium low.
4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Cover one baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack over another baking sheet.
5. Once dough has doubled in size, divide into 12 equal portions, about 1/4 cup each. Place portions of dough back into the greased bowl and cover with the damp cloth while you work with one portion at a time.
6. Roll and stretch a portion of dough into a long rope with your hands (about 18 inches), working from the center to the ends. Twist the rope into a pretzel shape.
7. Dip the pretzel into baking soda solution for about 30 seconds, and then transfer to wire rack. Repeat this process with 5 more portions of dough since you’ll be baking 2 batches of 6.
8. Transfer pretzels to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Whisk together the egg and 1 teaspoon water and brush wash all over the tops and sides of each pretzel. Immediately sprinkle generously with coarse salt.
9. Place baking sheet on the top rack of the oven. Bake pretzels until golden, about 12-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time.
10. While first batch of pretzels are baking, prepare the other 6 pretzels so they’re ready to go in the oven when the first batch comes out.
Let us know: Do pretzels make you feel nostalgic for your childhood? What’s your favorite type of pretzel?
Sucker for a good recipe? Check out our other nostalgic recipes here.
At the Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.