Welcome to Day 2 of Soft Pretzel Week! Thanks for all your post suggestions…I’ll be adding a step-by-step tutorial on making pretzels, along with a few more pretzel recipes, a savory dip and a sweet dip to this week’s line-up.
But first, some Brain Food for you all.
When I posted my traditional homemade pretzels, quite a few people asked me why I boiled the pretzels in baking soda + water before baking them. Was it really worth the extra time and effort, they asked?
My answer: a resounding YES. Definitely worth it!
I mean, just look at the differences:
The pretzel in the front wasn’t boiled in baking soda. See how flat and sadly pale it is?
This one was boiled before baking. Look how beautiful the dark crust is, complete with “crackling” on the surface!
The reasoning for this is really two-fold.
First, the boiling. Dropping each pretzel into boiling water for about 30 seconds makes the interior of the pretzel quickly “puff” and begins the crust formation. If you don’t boil, you’ll lose out on the chewiness you’d expect from a pretzel…and that would just be sad, now wouldn’t it?
The other reason it is worth it? The baking soda.
The baking soda is what gives the pretzels their brown and shiny crust and their distinctive flavor.
Remember the acid-base scale from back in your chemistry classes?
Well, water alone is typically pretty neutral. But when you add baking soda? It moves way over to the alkaline or basic side of the scale.
And when this happens, the browning reactions that makes a soft pretzel a soft pretzel can happen more rapidly.
So yes, you can skip the “boiling in water + baking soda” step. But beware: if you do, you’ll lose out on the texture, flavor and appearance of the pretzel. So it won’t really be a soft pretzel.
Boiled on the left, unboiled on the right.
Alternatively, you can dip the pretzels in lye before baking them. But that requires rubber gloves and safety goggles, so…. I choose baking soda.
Previous soft pretzel posts, in case you missed them:
Have any suggestions for future Brain Food posts or themed weeks? I’d love your input here or at my Facebook page!