Pretzel dough 9 ways, part 2: minimum effort, maximum fun!

For the prelude to this paean to pretzels, see Pretzel Dough 9 Ways, part 1.

Now, where did we leave off with all the wonderful, amazing, and totally yummy things you can do with pretzel dough?

Part 1 of this two-part series covers classic pretzels, plus rolls: sandwich, onion, and soft garlic butter knots.

Those are the basics; let’s jump right in to some rather more decadent variations on simple pretzel dough. The photos here illustrate treats made from our easy Soft Buttery Pretzel Mix.

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Let’s start with pigs in a blanket.

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Divide your pretzel dough into 24 pieces. Flatten each piece into a rough square or rectangle; a 3″ square works well for the typical 2″ mini dogs you might use.

Roll ’em up; pinch the seam to seal; it helps to wet the edge just a bit first, to create some stickiness.

Let them rest for 15 minutes, while you heat heat 6 cups water, 2 tablespoons baking soda, and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large saucepan or electric frying pan.

Simmer the “pigs” for 30 seconds. Place them on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with coarse white pretzel salt (included with the mix).

Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 18 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature, with your favorite mustard.

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Tip: Substitute halved string cheese (mozzarella) sticks for a vegetarian crowd. Or just because; they’re yummy!

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Pretzel dipping sticks with Hot Popper Dip? We can absolutely do that.

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Add 2 teaspoons each cumin powder and chili powder to the dry pretzel mix in the bowl, before adding the water. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, and roll each piece into an 18″ rope. Cut 3″ sticks; you’ll have 36 pieces.

Simmer the sticks for 30 seconds in the water bath. Sprinkle them with coarse white pretzel salt, and just like the pigs in a blanket, bake them for about 18 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

Tip: Creamy Artichoke-Zucchini Dip is another delicious complement to these sticks. And talk about easy – you can make the hot dip in your bread machine!

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Here’s a bread that’s taken the blog-o-sphere by storm: “bloomin'” cheese bread, a crusty loaf filled with cheese, doused with melted butter, garlic, and scallions, and baked.

I’m going to make four individual-serve mini loaves. And I’m going to experiment a bit with the simmering-in-water step: how much difference does it really make?

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The loaf on the left didn’t go through the water bath; I brushed it with plain water so the salt would adhere. The loaf on the right simmered in the water bath for 30 seconds on each side.

See the difference after baking for about 22 minutes? The simmered loaf on the right is a bit shorter, but also darker, shinier…

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…and sturdier. In order to stuff cheese slices into the bread, I slice it to (but not through) the bottom, both ways. Slicing the simmered loaf was easy; the loaf that hadn’t been simmered was more delicate, and pieces of crust peeled off as I worked.

Score one for the simmered loaf.

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Now, choose your cheese. These new cheddars from Cabot’s Farmers’ Legacy Collection are very tasty indeed.

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I slice the cheese (about 1 pound total for the four loaves), and stuff it into the deep crevasses I’ve cut into the bread.

Next, I mix 4 ounces melted butter with 1 cup sliced scallions (both green and white parts), a tablespoon of minced garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt (if you’re using unsalted butter; salted butter won’t require any additional salt).

I drizzle this aromatic mixture over the four loaves, and cover them with foil.

I bake the loaves in a 350°F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt. Then I bake them maybe 10 minutes more, uncovered, to crisp everything up a bit.

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Oh, my… Tear and share!

Tip: Some cheeses melt more quickly and thoroughly than others – thus the range of baking times. In general, soft cheeses (think Muenster or Fontina) melt more quickly than harder cheeses. Start checking at 20 minutes, but be prepared for the bread to bake longer.

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What would life be without pizza? In this case, pretzel crust pepperoni pizza.

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I divide the dough into four pieces, and stretch each piece into a 7″ round.

After resting 15 minutes, I simmer them for 45 seconds in the water bath, pushing them under the surface several times but not turning them over.

I use a slotted spatula to lift them onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle their edges with coarse white pretzel salt.

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Into the 400°F oven they go, for 20 minutes.

Ah… Just savor that chewy yet very light crust, its salty rim offsetting the mild mozzarella and spicy pepperoni. Little Caesars, eat your heart out!

Tip: When shaping your pizzas, make the center thinner than the outside edge. A nice, puffy rim, especially when it’s coated with coarse white salt, makes for a very attractive pizza.

Finally – dessert! Though the path to this particular treat wasn’t without its pitfalls.

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I decide to make cinnamon twists with chocolate fondue dipping sauce.

I model my technique on our recipe for pastry-based Cinnamon Sticks. But things start going wrong right from the get-go.

I cut the pretzel dough into two pieces, and roll each piece into a 5″ x 15″ rectangle. Sprinkle each rectangle with cinnamon-sugar. Then, deciding to get fancy, I add cinnamon chips to half of one rectangle, pushing them into the dough – only they keep popping out again. Strike one.

I cut each rectangle into 1/2″ strips, and twist the strips. Only problem is, the more I twist, the stretchier they get, the longer they become. Pretty soon these 5″ strips have turned into skinny 10″ twists – too long to fit into my saucepan of simmering water. Strike 2.

So I chop them all in half, to get them into the pan. But frustrated at the slow pace, I crowd too many into the pan at once. They simmer too long, become soft, and fall apart as I lift them out of the water. Strike 3.

And most of the cinnamon chips fall off, anyway. Strike 4. What was I thinking?!

I decide to bake the now gnarly, misshapen ropes anyway. I sprinkle them with more cinnamon-sugar, put them into the oven – and forget to set the timer. Let’s hear it for strike 5!

The bad news is, I don’t know how long they baked. I don’t know, ultimately, how many I ended up with.

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The good news is, they taste pretty good, even on their own. And with the chocolate fondue? Heaven!

Next time I do this, I’m making simple naked ropes, about 5″ long; simmering them in the water bath, THEN sprinkling heavily with cinnamon-sugar before baking.

Tip: Do as I say, not as I did!!

Some key points to remember:
•Bring the water bath to a medium (but not rolling) boil; when you add your bread or sticks, it’ll calm down to a simmer.
•Sprinkle the salt onto whatever you’re making as soon as you lift it out of the water bath and put it onto the pan. If you wait for your pizza or bread to dry off, the salt won’t stick.
•If you’re worried about appearance, these treats are best enjoyed the same day you make them. When stored overnight under wraps, the salt tends to melt and disappear. They’ll still taste good; they just won’t show that pretty white-salt coating.

So there you have it – lots of yummy things to do with simple pretzel dough. While I used our pretzel mix for all of the treats pictured here, you can also start with our Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels recipe. Yields will be different, but the techniques are all the same. Enjoy!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Jenn

    I bought the Hillshire farms mini Kielbasa dogs – can’t wait to try it with those. I think the combo of pretzel and kielbasa will be a winner for sure 🙂

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth Richards Schurg

    I have the King Arthur Flour recipe for hot buttered soft pretzels published on 1/23/2012. It uses King Arthur Unbleached AP Flour. It turns out very well. I am curious what may be the advantages of using your ‘pretzel mix’ as opposed to using your A P flour recipe. Is it a different type of flour? Is there more in this mix besides the flour?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The mix is just a little easier to put together, but I think you’ll have great results with either the mix or the recipe, Elizabeth. Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I never would have thought of pretzel pizza, but it does sound good doesn’t it? Barb@KAF

  3. "Lynette Bakes"

    “What was I thinking?!”…I LOVE that you just kept on plugging as problem after problem arose with the cinnamon sticks! Haven’t all of us bakers been there at one time or another???

    I’m thinking some mini dogs and cheese sticks wrapped in pretzel dough will be just perfect for the BIG GAME coming up soon! Can’t wait to try these ideas! Thanks for sharing with us, PJ!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Lynette, we’ve ALL been there at one time or another, right? Thankfully, the “words of frustration” issuing from my mouth at that point were audible only to me, not to the greater KA audience! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words – and enjoy those pigs in their mini blankets. PJH

  4. Kalisa

    I have made a pretzel-roll (bretzel) several times before, and the extra work is totally worth it to get that delicious pretzel texture. Pretzels are my favorite guilty pleasure when I’m out and want a snack.

    A small word of caution if anyone decides to make mini-pretzel bites or smaller pretzel treats: make a small test batch specifically for checking the duration of the baking soda bath. I bathed an entire batch of batter for the recommended time (it was NOT a KAF recipe) and tasted them after they had baked. They were disgusting, the great flavor of the dough overridden by the bitterness of too much baking soda. It hurt my heart to throw two full pans of bites away but there was no saving them. The author of the recipe must have transcribed the bath time for full-sized pretzels to these smaller treats and they were totally ruined.

    Reply
  5. Cynthia in Phoenix

    Is this too dumb? When did you put on the toppings on the pretzel pizza, before or after the 20 minutes is the oven? Or half way through the baking? I’m hoping for nice crispy texture. I’m a beginner but as long as I stick to KA Recipes and products, everything turns out yummy!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      NEVER “too dumb,” Cynthia! We all learn by doing – and by asking, so ask away. I put the toppings on the pizza right away, before baking; that was the method I tried first, and it worked well, so I didn’t try adding toppings halfway through – though I have no doubt that would work as well. I’m so glad you’re finding success with our recipes and products – our mission is to spread the joy of baking, and it sounds like we’re succeeding as far as you’re concerned. Enjoy! PJH

  6. Gelatogirl

    This question isn’t related to the mix but rather pretzels in general. City Bakery in NY makes pretzel croissants. How do they do that? Do you think the water bath principle would work with croissant dough? Or the butter would seep out in the warm water and I would lose the flaky layering?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Not having tasted or seen them, I can’t say for sure. They may brush the dough with the water solution instead of dipping them… see if their bakers will tell you the secret! Laurie@KAF

  7. Diane

    I have some baking molds (for example, a challah bun mold) that I would like to use to make pretzel-ized buns . . . Should I form them into rough balls and place them into the water mix on only one side, and then place them into the mold with that side down? Or should I flip them? Should I place them in the pan immediately and bake them, or allow for a final rise prior to baking? There are only two of us (translation: taste testers/victims to the experiment), so any assistance would be appreciated!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      To make the bakers happy taste testers instead of unfortunate victims, please prepare the pretzel dough as instructed all the way up through the shaping and the second rise. Shape the dough into pieces that will fill the baking molds about 2/3 way (as they will expand during the second rest). Be sure to spray the molds well with a high-quality non-stick spray and then place the dough in the molds. Allow the dough to rest for about 15 minutes in the molds. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and right before baking, put take each piece of dough and drop it into the water bath for about 1 minute. It may become slightly mis-shapen, but if you put the dough back into the mold to bake you should be able to see the design you are looking for. A full immersion in the water bath will give you an even coating and crust rather than just a half-dunked pretzel. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pretzels are beautiful golden brown. Happy pretzel baking! Kye@KAF

  8. Sue Phelan

    does the TIME in the water bath determine how dark the bread gets? OR is it just the length of the bake? In some photos the bread seem much darker.
    Any recipe for a full size loaf?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The time in the water bath does not determine the browning. The presence of baking soda in the water bath and the length of baking time will aid in the browning. Have fun playing around with the different ideas. Maybe you can come up with some your own? Please share if you do! Elisabeth@KAF

  9. Michele

    Would it be possible to turn the pretzel mix into a sweet Challah? I had one recently and it was like a traditional challah stuffed with chocolate chunks. The crust was like a traditional soft pretzel. Oh my, heaven!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure! After the 30 minute rise, divide and shape into rounds. Then freeze. Pull them out as you need them. Defrost in the frig and allow to come to room temperature before rolling and shaping. Enjoy! Elisabeth@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure thing, Susan. Put your prepared pigs on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake at 325°F for about 5-10 minutes or until they’re as warm as you’d like to serve them. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  10. Rhonda Swindle

    I just purchased a Brentwood Mini Pretzel Maker and oddly it only came with recipes for dip another pretzels. I was wondering if I could use this mix with the machine and if so, would I make the basic dough per instructions? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re not too familiar with pretzel makers, Rhonda, and we can’t find much about this one online. The little we did find suggested that it’s more like a pretzel-shaped waffle iron and that you’ll want to use pancake mix. Other recipes online for “pretzels made in a pretzel maker” do look more like traditional, yeasted, pretzel dough (like our mix), but we can’t say for sure how it would work in your machine. You may want to see if you can contact the manufacturer directly to hear their recommendations. Best of luck! Mollie@KAF

  11. sandy

    I recently took my grandsons to the shore and we had “Pretzel wrappers” on the Boardwalk. They liked them so much I decided to try to make them at home. I used the KAF pretzel mix and followed the wrapping instructions for the hot dog stuffed pretzels above. I filled several with hot sausage and several with cooked seasoned chicken and cheese. I tried to keep the dough sort of thin so the bread wouldn’t overpower the filling. After shaping and filling I did the water bath and baked them. They turned out great. They also warmed up well the following day. Next time I am going to try broccoli, cheese and chicken.

    Reply

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