Saturdays in the fall are for football (Go Buckeyes!). But, seeing as how I can’t watch 12 hours of uninterrupted football like The Beard, Saturdays are also for making tons of time-consuming recipes. In the spirit of tailgating, I decided to make some homemade soft pretzel sticks. This recipe is super easy and even though you are using yeast, there is a reasonable amount of room for error so don’t be frightened.
I normally use the little pre-portioned packets of active dry yeast but figured I should be a little more cost effective and buy the jar of yeast. But, I wasn’t paying attention and accidentally bought fast rise yeast instead. After googling the difference between the two, I’ve decided that there isn’t enough of a difference to really go crazy about. My soft pretzel dough raised perfectly fine with the fast rise yeast and I assume it would do the same with active dry yeast. See, look how pretty and yeasty and beautiful it is.
My dough was still a little bit sticky after I let it rise so I used some extra flour to mold them into the sticks. I used my food scale to make sure they were all 1.5oz but you can absolutely eyeball them or make them into different shapes, sizes, etc. Just make sure that your soft pretzel sticks are all relatively the same size so they cook evenly. And if you’re in the market for a food scale, I recommend the one we use — it’s not too pricey, works well and Alton Brown uses it.
I played around with the timing on these and it will all depend on how you like your soft pretzel sticks. I like mine still a bit doughy and soft while The Beard would prefer them a little harder on the outside. The nice thing about ovens is you can take out half when you want and leave the rest in for the crew who likes ’em a little toastier. This reminds me of the white meat/dark meat Thanksgiving argument in which there is also no losing answer.
A few years ago, when The Beard and I had just moved in together, we decided to celebrate the Super Bowl by making just about every football appetizer you may need. Just for the two of us. They say that loving relationships make you gain weight, I think it our case, it was all the homemade cheese dip and carbs. In the spirit of football games, we couldn’t just make homemade soft pretzel sticks, so we tossed in some nachos and chicken wings for good measure.
We used some shredded beef that we made from our abundance of chuck roast and then spooned on some melted super processed, white queso (that is also amazing) and then topped them off with tomato, red onion and romaine lettuce. If it were up to me, we’d also have some avocado in there but The Beard isn’t a fan of the heavenly snack that is guacamole. Since no football event is complete without chicken wings, we also cooked some of those babies up in the oven and tossed them in some hot buffalo sauce. There is nothing better than turning the TV up so you can yell over it when your team does something amazing (or terrible) while munching on your favorite football snacks. Tell me your game day food traditions in the comments!
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (111ºF is perfect)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (see note above about yeast options)
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon milk or cream
- vegetable oil
- Whisk warm water, sugar and salt in the bowl of your Kitchen Aid Mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the mixture (don't whisk together) and let it sit for about 5 minutes or until it starts to foam.
- Sift your flour into a separate bowl then add melted bowl and gently whisk until combined.
- After yeast mixture is ready, gently add flour mixture and mix with dough hook on low until combined. Then, increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth, pulls away from the sides of the bowl and isn't sticky.
- Grease a bowl with a bit of vegetable oil and turn dough in it to coat, then cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Store in a warm place for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size and is soft to the touch.
- When dough is ready, preheat your oven to 425ºF and then line two sheet trays with parchment paper that has been lightly oiled.
- Fill a large stock pot with water and whisk in the baking soda. Bring it to a strong boil.
- While the water comes to a boil, turn out your dough on a surface and start to separate into pieces. Portion equal sized pieces from the dough and form into sticks.
- Once the water is boiling, slowly drop each stick in for about 30 seconds. Remove from water with a slotted spoon, careful to leave as much water in the pot as possible, and place on your parchment lined baking sheets.
- Once all sticks are lined on the baking sheets, brush with egg wash (eggs + milk/cream, whisked together) and top with coarse sea salt or cinnamon & sugar.
- Bake your sticks for 40-50 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness. Be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the cook time. Remove from oven and serve with your favorite dipping sauce and football team!
- If your yeast mixture isn't foaming in five minutes, your yeast may have expired and you might need to start over to get a more potent strain.
- I like to turn my oven on 350ºF while I'm prepping all my ingredients and then turn it off and set my rising dough on top of it. It creates a nice little warm spot without too much heat.
- If you have leftover pretzel sticks, toss them in a freezer bag to have on a whim. When you are ready to eat them again, toss the frozen ones in the oven at 350 for 5-8 minutes. Do NOT put in the microwave because they will just get tough and icky.