The legendary pretzels


I absolutely ADORE pretzels but I always thought they could only be done professionally hence never attempted making them. Until very recently, that is. As you know I am experimenting with all things yeasty at present so decided that the moment had come to try them out. Why not? At worst they were going to be a disaster not to be repeated and blogged as a misdemeanour, right? So imagine my surprise when I sank my teeth in my very first pretzel and ….. WOW! I discovered it tasted damn close to the real thing! Ok, ok…I am sure that what I produced was not 100% kosher and a German person might very well turn his/her nose up at my creation (Beate? Your comment, please) but oh boy! They were soooooooo good!! I made them reasonably big in order to be able to cut them in half and butter them. I have tried them three times now and every time they were a success. They are not dissimilar from bagels in the sense that you need to boil them in water first before baking them. But that’s hardly complicated, right? The recipe was found on the BBC Good food website. I have adapted it slightly. If anyone out there likes pretzels DO HAVE A GO! You will be surprised about how easy they are. By the way I had to put a search on google for a video to show me how to knot them up. If you just go on Youtube  you’ll find more than one. Once you have learnt the technique you can do them with your eyes shut. I promise! Rocket science it ain’t!

INGREDIENTS (makes 6 largish ones)

  • For The Dough
  • 1/2 kg Plain White Flour (around 9 – 12 % protein)
  • 130 ml milk (lukewarm)
  • 130 ml water (lukewarm)
  • 40 g Butter (unsalted)
  • 1 tsp malt extract or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fast action dried yeast (or 21 g fresh> that’s what I used)
  • 10 gr Salt (unrefined)
  • For The Finishing Solution
  • 1.5 L Water
  • 3 tbsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • For Topping
  • Unrefined salt (Rock/ sea salt), sesame seeds or poppy seeds


  1. Add 50g of flour flour, all the yeast and the water into a bowl. Mix, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes, until it starts frothing up. After that, add the rest of the flour, salt, milk, malt extract or sugar and melted butter. Mix and kneed the mixture to make a firm dough (around 10 minutes) and leave for approx 1 and a half hours or until doubled in size.
  2. When ready, knock the dough back and start forming shapes. Roll the dough out to be a long (40 cm) rope with the middle 5cm bulged to a diameter of around 3 cm, tapering to the ends being around 0.75 cm thick. Bring the two ends together about 5 cm in, overlap them, twist, and bring back to go over the main body. Almost like tying a knot. Leave for 30 minutes uncovered in a warm room to rise and develop.
  3. In the meantime bring the 1.5 litres of water to the boil in a large pot (around 20cm diameter) and add the bicarbonate of soda.
  4. Drop the shaped dough into the boiling solution (one at a time) until they float (about 5 second), fish out with a fish slice (or similar) and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with sea salt (lightly at first, you find your own taste preference later) , sesame seeds or poppy seeds and slash the dough to a depth of around 1cm in the thick part at the top-back.

5.  Add the baking sheets to the 200C oven for around 16 minutes, until a nice deep bready brown is seen on the pretzels.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. They taste good warm, but better when cooled and crisped. Great for eating with beer, on the go, with friends, or cut open and used as the base for cheese on toast.



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2 Responses to “The legendary pretzels”

  • Congratulations, at long last you did pretzels, and they do look impressive to me and quite authentic! Imagine an Italian baking German pretzels in England following a recipe by the BBC! That’s globalisation for you! Although German pretzels are one of the very few things I miss when away I must admit I never attempted to make them myself (perhaps you don’t when you get them everywhere). But if I ever live abroad again I shall remember your recipe! I didn’t even know they have to be boiled beforehand, but it does make sense.
    By the way, I tried the savory brioche a while ago and it turned out fine!

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