Introduction: Pretzel Bread

Picture of Pretzel Bread

Baking bread, whether as an occupation or as a hobby, is extremely satisfying. Bakers have almost complete control over their bread, requiring little more than some very simple ingredients, time and the willingness to get his or her hands a little messy.

Pretzel bread is not quite a simple as flat bread or dinner rolls, but the loaves come out of the oven with a deep, brown pretzel crust and a slightly sweet, tender center. This particular recipe should be treated as a base to which other ingredients may be added. Cinnamon and extra brown sugar can create a sweet pretzel, or garlic and other spices can create a more savory pretzel. The loaves can be baked into mini-loaves, sandwich loaves or just cut into chunks and served as a snack. If you come up with something good, leave it in the comments.

But now for the bread.

Makes : 2 small loaves.

Prep time : 3-4 hours (including rise time).

Ingredients :

1 packet dry active yeast, or 2 tsp.
2 cups warm (110F) water.
1 tbsp dark brown sugar.
1 tbsp honey.
2 tbsp half-and-half.
3 tbsp unsalted butter.
1.5 tsp salt.
3-3.5 cups bread flour.
3 tbsp baking soda.

Step 1: Preparing the Dough

Picture of Preparing the Dough

Combine the warm water, dark brown sugar and honey in a mixing bowl and stir. Add the yeast carefully to avoid clumps. Stir again and let the mixture stand until the surface of the water starts to turn a light brown as the yeast begins to foam. It should take no longer than a few minutes. If your water is too hot, too cold or the yeast is bad it will not foam. It's a lot easier to deal with bad yeast or water early on.

Also, note that this recipe uses dry active yeast. fresh yeast or fast/self rising yeast can be used, but be sure to read the instructions on the packet to adapt the recipe.

The yeast, when added to the warm, sugary water, starts to consume the sugar and multiply like crazy. They are what gives the bread its ability to rise and expand later on. While the yeast is started to get going, melt the 3 tbsp of unsalted butter, then add the half-and-half. By adding the half and half to the melted butter, the half and half warms up a bit if it is straight out of the fridge. Add the tsp of salt  to the yeast mixture with the butter and half and half then stir well.

Step 2: Mixing the Dough

Picture of Mixing the Dough

First of all, to avoid future heartache and dough everywhere, make sure you lightly butter the bottom and sides of a large bowl at set it aside. Be sure the bowl is beg enough for the dough to fit in after doubling in size.

Measure out two cups of flour and add the to the mixing bowl. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, feel free to let it do most of the work at this point. If not, grab a rubber spatula or flour your hands and start mixing the dough. Rather than using a mixing motion like when working with a cake mix, fold the flour into the water. scrape along the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold it into the flour. As the dough starts to come together it will be nearly impossible to stir anyway. Think of flipping a pancake when scraping along the bottom and flipping it to the top.

Once the dough forms a wet mess, add a little of the third cup at a time and fold the new flour into the dough. Do not add the entire cup at one, as it may not be needed. Add a little at a time (a couple tsp) and knead. After a few minutes the dough should stop sticking so the sides of the bowl as much and start to form a ball. Add flour and knead until the dough ball is just slightly sticky. At that point, turn it out of the bowl onto a clean, lightly floured surface or just flour your hands and pick it up. Knead the dough by fold it over and over in different directions until it gets sticky again, then sprinkle just a little more flour on it. Knead until the dough is smooth and just slightly sticky. It should form a fairly solid ball.

Step 3: Pretzel Bread Rising

Picture of Pretzel Bread Rising

All of the hard work is done once the dough is kneaded. Take the now-smooth ball of dough and place it in the buttered bowl from earlier. Don't worry if the dough is just a little sticky, but it shouldn't stick to your floured hand anymore.

After the dough is in the buttered bowl, flip it over once so that all sides are coated.

Cover the dough with either plastic wrap or a moist cloth and set it somewhere it will stay warm. If the house is particularly cold, turn the oven on just until it starts to warm a little and turn it back off, then set the bowl in there. If the dough doesn't stay warm it won't rise well, but if it gets too hot it will rise very quickly or, even worse, start to bake. About 70-75 degrees is fine.

After an hour, check on the dough. Because there is not much yeast in this particular bread it will probably take longer than an hour to get nearly doubled. If it is slightly cold, the dough could take more like an hour and a half to two hours to rise. If you really need the bread in, say, two hours total, add another half a packet of yeast when starting it.

Once the yeast has nearly doubled, get a wide pot of water on the stove and add baking soda. More soda will add a stronger pretzel flavor. Additionally, a little honey can be added to sweeten the crust a bit. Let the water come to a boil while getting the dough together.

Step 4: Boiling and Scoring

Picture of Boiling and Scoring

Get the oven pre-heating to 450 degrees.

Uncover the dough and punch it down. If the dough is sticky again, sprinkle a little flour around the sides and over the top. Peel the dough out of the owl and turn it out onto a floured surface. At this point it can be cut and shaped into what will be its final shape. Keep in mind that the dough is going to have to be boiled and then removed from the water. Smaller loaves will be easier to handle.

Shape the loaves and set them on a lightly floured surface then cover lightly to rise while the water comes to a boil. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, carefully drop the loaves into the pot one at a time with the side that will be the bottom facing up. They should float right back up to the surface. If the water is not hot enough they will sink and stick, so be absolutely sure the water is boiling strongly. Also keep in mind that it can bun rather badly if the loaves and dropped into the water too quickly.

Let each loaf float around for 30 seconds on each side. Using spatulas or a large, slotted spoon, remove the loaf from the water, let it drain for a second, and place it on either a floured baking sheet, a lightly greased sheet or, the easiest option, a silicon baking mat . Sprinkle the still-wet loaves with kosher salt to taste.

Using a very sharp knife, cut an "x" onto the top of each loaf. Be sure to cut at an angle. The slices will let the loaves expand in the oven.

Step 5: Bake and Enjoy

Picture of Bake and Enjoy

After the oven is up to temperature, set the loaves in the top 1/2 or top 1/3 of the oven. Let them bake for ten minutes, turn them, and drop the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for another 10 or so minutes. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped on the top.

During the last few minutes of baking, the loaves should hit their maximum size and turn a dark brown.

Once the loaves are out of the oven, brush them lightly with melted butter for a softer, chewer crust. If they are not buttered the loaves will keep a crunchy crust.

Keep in mind that baking times may vary based on your oven.

Serve the loaves warm with butter or a dip. A cheddar and sour cream dip is particularly good. Store them at room temperature in a bag. The loaves will keep several days.


scarlson7 made it! (author)2017-07-09

just pulled it out of the oven. Looks great. Can't wait to try it

silm (author)2017-04-24

Very tasty bread recipe Its a different way to cook bread.I like the way of cooking this bread.

riverajenny9 (author)2017-03-20

Pleasant work!! Awesome

FFRTeam made it! (author)2015-11-30

the quantity of water seems overkill... my dough was more a pancake dough, i had to add about 2 cup of flour and the dough couldn't get firm at all, any suggestions?

Still I'll try it again soon

explode97 (author)2014-07-21

love the 'ible , tastes great too :)

elevenlakes made it! (author)2014-02-12

Came out wonderfully. So tasty too! I did have to add a lot more flour than the instructions called for though. Very happy with this recipe. Thanks for posting. =]

stinkydroolface (author)2013-07-27

When, where do you add the baking soda. Nothing is mentioned.

reikari (author)stinkydroolface2013-09-25

You add the baking soda in the boiling water before you boil the bread.

Diamonds_OnTheInside (author)2013-02-02

This sounds delicious! I've got to try making it soon! I love to bake and I love pretzels. :)

altosinger (author)2013-01-21

I have made this recipe twice, and its flavor is fabulous (obviously, since I have made it twice!), but you need to know that it calls for exactly half of the amount of flour that is actually needed.

altosinger (author)altosinger2013-01-21

Sorry, I didn't see that people have actually mentioned this before. ItsJeremy, you really ought to change the recipe. Unless someone has bread baking experience, he or she is going to try this recipe, not know to just add more flour and think it is a dismal failure. thanks for posting though! Kids love it!

gwrober (author)2013-01-13

Just made this - turned out pretty good! I think I'll follow some of the comments, and use less water. I'll also try to use the soda water basting instead of the boiling - the boiling foamed up and I spent most of the time fighting that. BUT - but, the bread is DELICIOUS. The crust was just right! The wife wanted to make some smaller pieces too, so we made some "sticks" also...

The dark lines in the middle of one of the loaves is the soda water mixture, it soaked into a fold and didn't bake out completely.

chemicalfacist (author)2011-02-01

I have been using a similar recipe for a yearish now. I have not upgrade to the lye bath yet as most recipes say that improves the crust to a more brown crispiness. I have been wondering if your loaves are dense. I have tried many things to get more "air" in the bread, but it always seems to stay dense. what are your experiences?

ItsJeremy (author)chemicalfacist2011-02-01

Yes, these loaves are extremely dense, but very soft. If you want loaves with more air pockets in them, let them rise for a while (half an hour or more) after you boil them. That will allow the yeast to create air pockets. Be careful that you don't slice the loaves until they are ready to go into the oven or they will just spread all over. You could also try letting them rise longer before boiling, but the problem there is that they will likely lose a lot of the air during the boiling unless you handle them very carefully.

With respect to the lye bath, I would suggest giving it a try if you can do it safely. I didn't mention lye because I wanted to limit it to things I figured another might have. The lye will give you a much better crust, but baking soda still does a good job.

chemicalfacist (author)ItsJeremy2011-02-01

my wife found lye pellets on the internet. supposed to be safer. but i bought a 15# of soda, so I'll work o n the recipe until i get it where I want it the move to the lye

lye flake is safe enough. its really just the order that you use it. adding it too the water instead of water to the lye.

t.rohner (author)chemicalfacist2011-04-03

Let them rise for 45-60 min after forming, then instead of submerging in boiling soda water, just brush them with it. (i add some salt to the soda water mix)
This keeps the dough handling gentle and thus less dense. After brushing the breads, pretzels... shove them into the oven immediately. The heat in the oven speeds up the reaction, like submerging it in boiling soda water.
The submerging method works of course, but it's traditionally used when making bagels.(without soda of course)
Brushing with lye would be even better, with this method you only need minute amounts.

Nice instructable, two things i like to add.
Yeast doesn't like fat or salt, so it would be better to add the fatty components later in the mixing process. With the salt, it may not be practical to add it too late, because it could be unevenly distributed in the dough. But i would add it to the second cup of flour.

Happy baking

daveda (author)2012-03-10

I tried this today. I think the water measurement is of by double, instead of two cups it should be one cup.
With two cups water and three cups flour you end up with a nice flour paste, no were near a dough. I had to add another 2 1/2 cups of flour to get a dough.
Instead of two small loves I ended up with six about 5 to 6 inches in diameter and an inch and a half tall.
They taste great. I will make this again with either 1 cup water and about 3 cups flour or the 2 cups water and about 6 cups flour.
You should change the ingredient list one way or the other.

ravagerxx (author)2011-10-13

wow wat are the odds of stumbling to this after this

goorooo (author)2011-09-25

so haven't made this bread yet... but "your kicks are growing plants and baking bread"? best ever :)

Quirky Jessi (author)2011-08-31

Oh yum! I think these would be good split in half, spread with mustard and a lunchmeat (probably ham), for a nice pretzel-y sandwich.

spongmai (author)2011-07-08

Combine the cool water to make a soft dough texture.

AmyLuthien (author)2011-06-18

I made this recipe today, and it turned out excellent!

For the record, I live at 5400+ ft elevation and had no problems whatsoever. I did add a little extra flour when kneading, but other than that, I followed the measurements given to the letter! Thanks :D

Raphite2 (author)2011-06-12

This bread proved to be a challenge, seeing as the ingredient list off by a few measurements. Dry should be at a 3:1 ratio with wet, so you will need almost 6 cups of flour to make this a good dough. The previously mentioned strategy of brushing on the soda water works perfectly and makes for a wonderful crust. I would suggest a bit more yeast, perhaps a half teaspoon, to make the other numbers add up well. After all is said and done, this bread is delicious and plentiful, and therefore a staple of my baking weekend. Bravo.

donicamm (author)2011-04-01

Is the crust of this bread firm enough to scoop out the innards and use it as a bread bowl?

chemicalfacist (author)donicamm2011-05-29

Yes you can. :) I did it with a vegetarian black bean chili.

gourmetlicious (author)2011-05-04

Just finished with the recipe! Here is the result! I haven't tried them yet, too hot:):)

Phoghat (author)2011-04-21

I live in Zacatecas, Mexico, at an altitude of ~ 9,000 Ft. Yesterday I tried this recipe and it was a dismal failure. I found out later that it really wasn't the fault of the recipe, but my own fault for not doing some basic research on baking and cooking at high altitudes. I found two sites that seem to address the problem pretty well and I learned a few things. I'll try making this again soon.

ghannon (author)2011-04-18

Is there any way I can make this without the brown sugar? Can I use honey, or agave nectar, in replacement of the sugar?

do'connor (author)2011-04-17

AWESOME!! Thank you!

btsmay (author)2011-04-10

I just tried this recipe and it is delish!! My kids also think it is wonderful. Was planning on having it with lasagne tonite, but my son informs me it may not last that long. I am curious about one thing however. I have been baking pretzels for many years and the recipe I use also calls for 3 cups of flour, but only 1 cup of water. How does your dough not turn out soupy using 2 cups of liquid? Or is it a typo? When I made this I ended up adding about 2 1/2 to 3 cups more flour. But as I said, it was VERY tasty! I will definitely add this to my personal cookbook. I am also interested in trying the lye bath method. KUDOS! very good 'ible.

Also, does anyone know how to go about getting "bakers ammonia"?

dollywild (author)2011-03-31

In the US there is a company called King Arthurs Flour that sells cheddar cheese powder made from actual cheese. I'm thinking pretzel cheese bread would be wunderbar. What an excellent thing to serve with beer....Thanks!

korgoth25 (author)dollywild2011-04-02

where did you find the chedder cheese powder? a specialty shop?

dollywild (author)korgoth252011-04-02

King Arthur Flour. They have a website and a print catalog. Based in the USA. HTH!

korgoth25 (author)dollywild2011-04-02

maybe ill just stop by the plant. Im in NH and live relativly close to it. never actually been though

dolly_p20 (author)2011-03-31

A question from abroad: what is half-and-half? What does it contain? Any other option?

lolcat360 (author)dolly_p202011-04-01

it's half milk half cream

cjh332002 (author)dolly_p202011-03-31

You can sub any type of milk. I use sweet cream or whipping cream for a rich flavor. You can how ever use non dairy creamer or rice milk if regular dairy is an issue.

dolly_p20 (author)cjh3320022011-03-31

Thank you.
Is Half and Half some type of milk?

Beschaulicheit (author)dolly_p202011-03-31

According to Wikipedia, the name Half and Half "refers to the liquid's content of half milk and half cream".

So, yes, a type of milk. In the US, we usually use it in coffee.

Sporkette (author)2011-03-31

I saw this today, and have already made it because it looked so good. It's as yummy as the pictures make it out to be. It's super easy too :) I'll be making it again.

trustr (author)2011-03-31

hmmmm... in Franconia/germany we call these Kastaniensemmel or Laugenbrötchen
(well I don't know if the ingredients are the same )
I could die for them :-)

mattress (author)2011-03-31

You mentioned the amount of flour would have to be altered if you're using All Purpose Flour. What quantity would you need?

GibbonsRock (author)2011-03-31

Nice work! Awesome `ible!

I make homemade pretzels and pretzel rolls all the time with lye and I think the difference is dramatic- baking soda pretzels taste a little baking soda-y, but the lye pretzels have a stronger and more authentic flavor. For those wanting to cook with lye, you can source food grade lye pellets on Amazon. Search for "food grade lye."

My favorite ratio for lye is about 1.5 Tablespoons pellets per liter of water. Add the pellets to the water, not water to the pellets. Also, DON'T BOIL this mixture- when you use a lye bath you don't need the heat to catalyze the reaction: a cold to room temperature bath will do the trick!

After bathing your dough, just pour the lye solution down your slowest drain. I usually pour it down the shower drain- lye is Drano, and can help break up the clogs.

Have fun, be careful and Bon appetit!

taransa (author)2011-02-12

This 'ible is amazing - I tried a double batch my first try and it came out perfect (did I mention it was my first time EVER making bread??).

I do a double batch of dough and divide it into 6 loaves for baking. I found brushing them with melted butter pre-and-post cooking is delicious. I tried toppings other than salt today, and they turned out great too - garlic powder and herb mix (the "pizza seasoning" that comes with many spice racks) was very savory and nice; brown sugar and cinnamon (with extra butter on top of the brown sugar pre-cooking) was quite a treat! It is a really good base to experiment with.

Thanks for the great 'ible!

About This Instructable




Bio: My current kicks are growing plants and baking bread.
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