RECIPE: Homemade soft pretzels are simple pleasure

Noni's Soft Pretzel Knots from "The Secret Ingredient Cookbook" by Kelly Senyei. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Noni's Soft Pretzel Knots from "The Secret Ingredient Cookbook" by Kelly Senyei. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Home cooks and chefs alike know the pleasure that comes from feeding someone their favorite foods. Throughout the pandemic, the majority of my kitchen projects have aimed to please my podmate husband.

Soft pretzels are among his favorite night snacks, but more often than not, we purchase frozen SuperPretzels and reheat them in the toaster oven. Yet making them from scratch isn’t that difficult.

In paging through Kelly Senyei’s forthcoming “The Secret Ingredient Cookbook” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30), I happened upon a recipe for soft pretzel knots that hails from Senyei’s mother.

“My mom, Noni, has mastered the art of pretzel bread, achieving the perfect balance of pillowy soft centers with chewy, glossy exteriors,” she writes.

The premise of the cookbook — and Senyei’s website, justataste.com — is to use a single ingredient that upgrades the dish from everyday OK to exemplary. In the case of these soft pretzel knots, the secret ingredient is everything bagel seasoning. However, if you don’t have a shaker on hand, coarse food-grade salt will still elicit the same kind of wow that my husband and his buddy uttered the night I served them these hot knots as they sat around the fire pit swilling beer.

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Noni's Soft Pretzel Knots from "The Secret Ingredient Cookbook" by Kelly Senyei (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30). (Courtesy of Robert Bredvad)
Noni's Soft Pretzel Knots from "The Secret Ingredient Cookbook" by Kelly Senyei (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30). (Courtesy of Robert Bredvad)

Credit: Robert Bredvad

Credit: Robert Bredvad

Noni’s Soft Pretzel Knots
  • 1 1/4 cups water, heated to 110 degrees
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 large egg yolks, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 tablespoons everything bagel seasoning, for topping
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let the mixture sit until it becomes foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour, salt, and melted butter to the bowl and mix until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. If the dough appears too sticky, add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time as needed.
  • Coat a large bowl with cooking spray, then transfer the dough to the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in a warm, dark place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then generously grease the parchment paper with cooking spray.
  • In a large stockpot set over high heat, whisk the baking soda into 8 cups water and bring to a boil.
  • Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide it into 16 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch rope. Tie each rope into a knot.
  • In batches, add the pretzel knots to the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the lined baking sheets.
  • Brush the pretzel knots with the egg wash, then sprinkle with the everything bagel seasoning.
  • Bake the pretzel knots for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until they are dark golden brown. Remove the pretzel knots from the oven and serve. Makes 16 knots.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per knot: 139 calories (percent of calories from fat, 21), 3 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 29 milligrams cholesterol, 381 milligrams sodium.

Excerpted from “The Secret Ingredient Cookbook” © 2021 by Kelly Senyei. Photography © 2021 by Robert Bredvad. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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