If you’ve been to a mall, ever, you know Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. At my mall, you can smell them from around the corner. Buttery, salty, chewy, they are perhaps the ultimate shopping snack. You can dunk them in mustard, split them with your dad while your mom takes 45 minutes to buy mascara, or eat one alone after you’ve looked at the price of an Anthropologie top and need a pick me up. They are the king of soft pretzels, nearly impossible to resist.
More fun than eating them, while your mom “just peaks into Lord and Taylor,” is making them from the comfort of your home. One year for Christmas, I received an Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Making Kit as a gag gift. Well, the joke was on my family because I loved it.
I called up my friend Anna, lover of experimental cooking and enthusiastic eating, and had her over to make some pretzels. Mixing dough, twisting pretzels, baking, buttering and eating – it was truly a fine afternoon of friendship and carb consumption.
The next Christmas, I was excited but not surprised to find another pretzel making kit waiting for me under the tree. So our little routine started. Once a year, for a few years, I’d get the kit and Anna and I would make pretzels.
I always looked forward to those (or any) afternoons spent with Anna. She’s been my best friend since I was born; but, as we’ve aged, we’ve drifted, not emotionally but geographically. We went to different high schools, different colleges, I moved to New York, she lived in DC. I moved to DC, she left for Charlottesville. She’s made new friends and I… well I’m trying… but whenever we are back together (as infrequent as it may seem) we fall back into old ways. We are still the same as we were many years ago, happy to bake pretzels in our pajamas.
So here’s my recipe for Auntie Anna’s pretzels, with a twist (get it twist…pretzels..nevermind).
They are so buttery and delicious, and no prefab kit necessary! So bake a few and give them to the best friend in your life or give him/her a call and snack while catching up!
Don’t have a best friend to share a pretzel with? I’ll be your friend! Follow my blog and never miss a recipe!
Pretzels – let’s begin.
Heat your milk to 110° F.
Pour the warmed milk into the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Let the yeast sit for 2 minutes and then mix into the the milk with a dough hook.
Mix in the brown sugar and 1 cup of the flour.
Add the diced butter and mix to combine.
Add the remaining flour and the salt.
Mix on medium until the dough starts to come together. It will be very sticky.
Continue to mix on medium until the dough is smooth. The dough will be springy and less sticky. This will take about 5 minutes.
Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot.
Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Punch the dough down. Girl power!
Divide the dough into six equal portions.
Roll into a thin, 12 or so inch log.
Cross one end over the other (like above)!
Twist and voila! Pretzel. Repeat with 5 remaining dough bunches.
In a baking dish or bowl (whatever you want) whisk together the water and the baking soda. Dip all the unbaked pretzels into the solution.
Preheat the oven to 450° F.
Place all dipped pretzels on a cookie sheet that has been brushed lightly with oil. Place the pretzels in the preheated oven.
Bake the pretzels for 10 – 12 minutes until golden brown and puffed. Remove from oven.
Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan and brush the warm pretzels with the butter. Sprinkle warm, buttered pretzels with coarse salt. You can do cinnamon-sugar too, if that’s how you roll.
These little fatties are so delicious. Buttery, soft, rich, warm! The best bread for a best friend. Here’s to my Anna and the Anna in your life!
Auntie Anna's Pretzels
1 cup of milk
1 package of active dry yeast
3 tablespoons of light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, diced and softened
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups of warm water
1 additional stick of butter
Warm the milk to 110° F in a small sauce pan. Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook attachment, and sprinkle with yeast. Let sit for 3-5 minutes until the yeast is softened. Mix in the brown sugar and 1 cup of the flour.
Add the butter and mix in with the dough hook. Add the rest of the flour and the salt. Turn the mixer to medium and mix until the dough begins to form. The dough will be very sticky and dimpled looking at this point.
Continue to mix the dough on medium until the dough becomes smooth and less sticky. This will take about 5 minutes. When it is ready it will be springy.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into 6 equal portions.
Working with one dough portion at a time, roll it with your hands to create a long rope. You can also lift it and swing it, slapping it on the counter, to help it stretch out. The rope should be about a foot in length.
Repeat this step with the 5 remaining portions.
Once all your logs are rolled begin to twist them…. hmm how to explain? Basically you want the bottom of the pretzel facing you. Take the two ends and cross them away from you, then twist in the middle and bring the cross/twisted ends down towards you. Does that make sense? – Check the pictures!
Repeat process with 5 remaining dough ropes.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Next, pour the 3 cups of warm water into a shallow baking dish or brownie pan. Dissolve the baking soda in the water.
Dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution before transferring to a cookie sheet.
Place the pretzels into the preheated oven and bake for 10- 12 minutes, until golden and fluffy.
While the pretzels are baking, melt the additional stick of butter in a small sauce pan.
When the pretzels come out of the oven, brush them with the melted butter and sprinkle with a little salt. If you want to make sweet cinnamon and sugar pretzels, skip the salt and roll hot buttered pretzels in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
Pretzels will stay fresh in an airtight container for about a week.