So I’ve made homemade soft pretzels twice in my life, and each time it amazes me a) how easy they are, and b) how RIDICULOUSLY GOOD THEY ARE.
As a kid I was fascinated by the taste of soft pretzels—what was that salty, alkaline taste that made them so pretzel-y? Turns out all it is is a dip in boiling water and baking soda. Who knew?
Well, clearly all pretzel makers of the world knew it. But not me.
It’s recipes like these giant cinnamon sugar pretzels that make me excited to have kids and bake with them. We’re going to twist pretzels, mix brownie batter, and eat cookie dough by the spoonful. I’m also going to be the cool mom that makes all the neighborhood kids fat.
Fat but happy. Very happy.
How to make pretzels from scratch
To make these homemade cinnamon sugar pretzels, you first need to make an enriched dough (which is a fancy way of describing dough that has fat and sugar in it as well as the basic ingredients like flour and water). For the dough, combine warm milk, yeast, and powdered sugar in a small bowl and let it sit for about five minutes, or until the top of the milk looks slightly foamy. This will give the yeast time to activate, which in turn helps the pretzel dough rise.
Once the yeast mixture is slightly frothy on top, pour it into a large bowl and add in the vegetable oil. Stir all that together, then add in the all-purpose flour one cup at a time. Knead the pretzel dough with a stand mixer or your hands (using your hands will take about 10 minutes, whereas a stand mixer takes just five).
You can use something called the window pane test to tell when the pretzel dough has been properly kneaded. Essentially, you stretch a small piece of the dough as much as you can and hold it up to the window. Light should come through the stretched dough without the dough ripping. Kinda cool, right? Then, let the pretzel dough rise in a warm place for an hour to 90 minutes.
Once the pretzel dough has risen, it’s time for the really fun part: shaping the pretzels and giving them a baking soda bath. The baking soda bath is the easiest part of this cinnamon sugar pretzel recipe. Literally all you have to do is bring a quarter cup of baking soda and some water to a rolling boil and dunk the pretzels into the mixture one by one for about 30 seconds apiece.
After that, pop the homemade soft pretzels into the oven and bake until golden brown. Make the three-ingredient fudge sauce while the pretzels are baking; once they’re out of the oven, brush some melted butter onto them and roll them in cinnamon sugar. And then try not to eat all eight pretzels in one sitting (I have faith in you).
Happy Friday, y’all. Time to make some giant homemade soft pretzels.
In a small bowl, combine warm milk, yeast, and powdered sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes, allowing the yeast to activate.
Pour mixture into a large bowl, then add in vegetable oil, stirring to combine. Add in flour, a cup at a time, mixing between each addition. Using either a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook or your hands, fold the dough until it’s smooth and stretchy, about 5 minutes with the standing mixer or 10-12 minutes by hand. You will know the dough is ready when you can hold it up to a window and, when stretched, light shines through without the dough breaking.
Lightly grease a large bowl with oil, then place the dough into the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm place for between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 450°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Using a large dutch oven or pasta pot, bring 3 inches of water and 1/4 cup baking soda to a strong boil.
Place the dough onto a large work surface. Do not flour the surface.
Cut the dough into 8 equal parts. Roll out each part into a 24″ long rope. I rolled out all 8 parts, then lined them up and cut off any uneven ends, to make uniform.
Make a U-shape with the rope. Holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other twice and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.
Place each pretzel, one by one, into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove it with a spatula and place it onto the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake pretzels for 12 minutes, until a light golden brown.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Remove pretzels from oven and brush with melted butter, then dip into cinnamon sugar mixture.
for the fudge sauce
Heat sweetened condensed milk in a medium pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Fold in chocolate chips, whisking to combine. Remove from heat once chocolate is fully melted. Place into a serving bowl and dip pretzels in!!