Martha and Me: Pretzel bites

When I bake, I typically think sweets. So for a change, I thought I’d challenge myself and not do a cupcake or a cookie, but instead make soft pretzels. I love soft pretzels, but never dreamed of ever making my own. To make the dough you have to use yeast, and I was scared! I have heard awful things about yeast not rising or not working properly. I was intimidated but I up to the task.

Everyone thinks of soft pretzels at the movies or at sporting events. They are always warm and salty, great with mustard and no matter what look perfect. So with Martha in my heart and head, I took the challenge on!

This recipe makes 12 pretzels

2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (1/4 ounce)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Vegetable oil, for baking sheets
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pretzel salt
Assorted mustards, for serving


  1. Mix yeast, coarse salt, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl, whisking until sugar dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix flour and cayenne in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Slowly pour yeast mixture over flour mixture, stirring to combine. Using your hands, gather dough together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Cut dough into 12 pieces, and roll each into an 18-inch rope. Form a U-shape with 1 rope, and twist ends together twice. Fold twisted portion backward along center of U shape to form a circle, then gently press ends of rope onto dough to seal. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet, and repeat. Let rise for 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add baking soda. Boil pretzels in batches until puffed and slightly shiny, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to wire racks to drain. Return to baking sheet, sprinkle with pretzel salt, and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Pretzels will keep, uncovered, at room temperature for up to 12 hours. Rewarm in a 250-degree oven if desired, and serve with mustards.

The yeast is intimidating but I learned with the recipe you really can’t mess it up. You just have to make sure to use warm water because cold water won’t do anything. The dough came together nicely but I was worried about one ingredient: the cayenne pepper. I am not a fan of spice and anything with the word pepper in it I try to stay away from, but I added it and in the end you could not even taste the pepper.  It turned out to just be a kick that the dough needed for flavor.

The dough rose nicely but once I started to roll it out I found it to be a little dry. It was hard to get the ropes to be long enough because the dough was breaking apart. This resulted in some pretzels that were somewhat chubby. Another problem I ran into was while boiling the pretzels they had a tendency to fall apart and make a huge mess and I was left with pretzel bits. But the final taste was well worth the few things that went wrong. They tasted exactly like soft pretzels; I’ll admit I was surprised. They were delicious!
I had five people taste the soft pretzels and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5- 1 being the lowest 5 being the highest- on over all taste, texture, appearance, quality, and willingness to try making recipe. I also had them make comments on what they would change about the cookie.
Overall Taste- 5
Texture- 5
Appearance- 4.5
Willingness to make Recipe-5

Over all they turned out great! Within one day they were all gone, people could not keep their hands off them!  In the future I might think about cutting them into little bite size pieces and making the poppable bits because of the trouble I had getting every one to be in the standard pretzel shape. These are for sure going to make it in my book and be a staple for future parties and gatherings.

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