Some of us may remember the freshly baked soft pretzels of yesterday. Warm and buttery, they were a treat at festive occasions like fall festivals and county fairs. Today’s pretzel world is more limited to the crunchy, snacky kind found in the chip aisle of grocery stores. While these pretzels may be good for road trips and party mixes, we still crave those soft pretzels made of our best childhood memories.

Enter the homemade soft pretzel. It’s not as hard as you think! Like any bread, success relies on yeast and a little patience, but it’s a task well worth it when you bite into that warm, fluffy center, topped with a crunchy bite of coarse salt. And if you’ve been waiting to try a homemade pretzel recipe, what better time than during Oktoberfest?

Feel free to customize the toppings on this recipe to your desire. You can go with a simple topping of salt, or you can play around with other seeds and spices, like poppy seeds, garlic powder, or even cinnamon and sugar.

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Yields 8 large pretzels

Ingredients

For the dough:
– 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
– 7/8 cup warm water

For the topping:
– 1 cup boiling water
– 2 tablespoons baking soda
– Coarse salt of choice
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– Optional additional toppings of choice, like poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic powder, or cinnamon and sugar

Directions
1. Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl (or the bowl of your standing mixer) and beat until well combined.
2. Knead the dough, by hand or using the dough hook of your standing mixer, for 5 minutes, or until the dough is soft and smooth. Gently shaped the dough into a ball and lightly flour the outside, then place in a bag and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
3. Heat the 1 cup of water in a pan over the stove top until boiling, then turn off heat and stir in the baking soda until completely dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool until lukewarm (or cooler). Transfer water to a 9″ square pan.
4. Preheat the oven to 475° and lightly grease a baking sheet (or cover with parchment paper).
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, then allow dough to rest for an additional 5 minutes.
6. Working with each piece of dough, roll into a long thin rope (around 28″ long) and twist each rope into a pretzel shape. (To do this, arrange rope into a “U” shape and then fold each end down, one on top of the other.)
7. Transfer 4 of the pretzels into the water bath, spooning water over the top of each pretzel, and allow to sit in the water bath for 2 minutes before placing on the baking sheet. (The water bath will lend a beautiful golden brown color to the baked pretzels.)
8. Once all 8 pretzels are on the baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt (and optional toppings), then allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes longer.
9. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown.
11. Remove the pretzels from the oven and brush with melted butter thoroughly. Repeat the butter wash until you’ve used all of the melted butter. (Trust us, it’s worth it!)
12. Serve warm and enjoy!