A few years ago, I went through a serious soft pretzel phase. They were the first yeast bread-like item I’d ever made successfully, and I just couldn’t stop making them. It eventually got to be so ridiculous that I caved and had a “Soft Pretzel Week” on Savvy Eats, wherein I covered pretzel recipes, dip recipes, and pretzel food science.
Making soft pretzels became second nature, and after a time, I hardly even needed to measure the flour out – I could just tell from the feel of the dough if it was right or not.
And then, I just stopped. I’m not even sure why – maybe I felt a little burnt-out on pretzels, or the stockpile of frozen twists in the freezer was enough for a few months. I’m not sure what it was, but a few weeks ago, I found myself craving a good soft pretzel. And because I had an open can of pumpkin puree that needed to be used up, and because it is pumpkin month, I decided to replace much of the oil with the pumpkin puree.
It turns out that making soft pretzels is a bit like riding a bike – as I kneaded the dough, punched it down and shaped it into pretzels, it felt comforting and familiar. Except whereas when you ride a bike again after a long time away, all you get is a bike ride, when I made this old favorite recipe, I come away with warm, springy soft pretzels.