appetizers, snacks

monday bites: soft pretzels.

soft pretzels.

Many of you know I’ve been hard at work sporadically at work repairing my relationship with yeast. It’s no one’s fault, really; yeast things and I have just never agreed on much. For instance, I think when I make bread, or bagels, whatever, which involve rising and punching and all that, that they should actually rise; yeast doesn’t feel the same. While I would argue that I’m a decent cook and deserve for my yeast rolls to turn out soft and fluffy, yeast would counter that it would rather see my rolls become oddly shaped and have a density akin to wet sheep. It’s a dysfunctional relationship, to be sure, but lately it seems we’ve had a breakthrough.

People, take note: in the past few months, I’ve made 3 successful yeast-based things, none of which resemble a wet sheep.

soft pretzels.

I still need to tell you about my cranberry walnut bread triumph, but I need better photos to do it justice; I’ll be remaking that one again shortly (what a shame! poor me.) For now, I want to talk about these pretzels. After I begged you to point me in the direction of easy, bread-ish recipes for me to make to garner a little more yeast confidence, Natalie at Wee Eats suggested her soft pretzels. I trust Natalie with a lot, but with pretzels, I was a bit apprehensive. You see, I’ve made soft pretzels before; they were horrid. Mostly, they never browned and tasted like bad, chewy air. It’s not that I didn’t trust her recipe, I just didn’t trust it in my hands.

But then something happened: I made the pretzels. And they were the best pretzels I’ve ever tasted.

I may have happy-cried a little bit when these came out of the oven. You know how sometimes you’re so convinced at every turn that something isn’t going to work out, you can’t get excited? I gently remind myself that I’m a yeast-idiot, and that it’s not the recipe’s fault, and even if they smell delicious that they’re going to taste like gravel. I refused to get excited about these. Until I ate one; then I got extremely excited, because they were a malty-shelled, pillow-soft ode to joy that I made all by myself.Β 

soft pretzels.

And a wee bit of a life-saver, might I add, because the original post I had for today fell victim to “I can not find my notes anywhere!” syndrome. I’ve been all a-frazzle since Friday, when I found out that I’m a finalist for the Riverfront Times’ 2013 Web Awards for Best Food Blog. That is huge to me, people; the RFT is a newspaper I spent a good portion of my teens and twenties (and still today) combing through to find what concerts were coming to town and what else was going on in my fair city. I have a lot of respect for them, so to say I’m thrilled? Understatement. And although I realize it’s cliché to say “I’m just honored to be nominated,” it’s actually the truth; even if I don’t take home the prize next week, the nod will be a massive source of pride for me. If I do manage to win Best Food Blog? Honestly, I’ll be happy if I don’t trip and fall over something on my way to the stage.

Because I was in a big old celebratory mood this weekend, I made these pretzels yet again, but this time as dunkable, Sunday afternoon football pretzel bites. To my delight, I found they worked just as perfectly the second time as they did the first: cutting the ropes into a dozen bite-sized pillows makes them a great football party snack. I wish I had a better photo, but it was late afternoon and I’m still on my nomination high.

soft pretzels.

And when you’re on a nomination high, you take photos like a baby goat.

As for Natalie’s incredible recipe, I didn’t change a thing to it, so just this once, I’m sending you elsewhere for it; her instructions got me through safe and sound, and I don’t have anything to add except to urge you to make these.

Here’s where you can find Natalie’s Soft Pretzel recipe. Take a little wander through her blog while you’re there (perhaps while you’re dough rises?), because she’s no one-hit wonder. You should be able to find a smorgasbord of sweet and savory recipes you’ll want to try.

Notes for Pretzel Bites:

If you’re wanting the bites like I made, follow her instructions up until you get through rolling out the ropes. Do it as she says, but then take a sharp, thin-bladed knife and trim the very ends of your rope (so your pieces will be uniform) and cut the rope into 12 pieces.

To cook, place a dozen at a time into the boiling soda water and stir gently for about 30 seconds, the remove with a strainer and place about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined sheet pan. You should be able to fit 24 on a standard half-sheet pan.

Bake them for around 12 minutes or so, checking after the 10-minute mark. These do require a few minutes less time, so watch them and don’t overdo it. Serve immediately with any sort of sauce you dream up; they’re lovely plain as well.

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  • Reply Faygie Moorvitch January 14, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Ooo, I think soft pretzel bites might just be a perfect addition to our Super Bowl nibbles. With lots of mustard on the side.

    • Reply shannon January 15, 2013 at 8:22 am

      totally! i know Mr. Table prefers either nacho cheese sauce or pizza sauce alongside, but i’m a big fan of the mustard-dipped prezel too. These will be at our Super Bowl party for sure!

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island January 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    You’re killing me with these pretzel pics, I made some a few months ago and now I’m craving more. These look so plump and soft and chewy, I’m going to have to try your recipe. And I’m crossing my fingers for you—that nomination is pretty awesome!

    • Reply shannon January 15, 2013 at 8:21 am

      sue: you’re the one with coffee truffles on your website, so i don’t even want to hear about ‘killing anyone’ with photos, okay? πŸ™‚
      thanks! i’m obviously going to be a total nerd about my excitement, but i don’t care; i just can’t be all cool when inside i’m like “wheeeeee!!”

  • Reply Elizabeth @ Eating Local in the Lou January 14, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I just read that you are one of the finalists- in the 2013 RFT Web Awards- congrats to you and good luck!!

    • Reply shannon January 15, 2013 at 8:19 am

      thank you so much, Elizabeth! I’m really excited (even if i don’t win, i swear.) πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brianne January 14, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I have a great fear of the soft pretzel. And the bagel. But I have a friend who makes both with awe-inducing regularity, so that makes me feel like they’re doable by a normal human being. I love making bread, and just yesterday, Kevin let me make pizza dough! (He let me do it because I made a fig, prosciutto, and goat cheese pizza, which he refused to be involved with until he tried it and LOVED it.) It was life changing.

    Congrats on the big nom, lady! You’re a superstar πŸ™‚

    • Reply shannon January 15, 2013 at 8:30 am

      you? really? now see, i would have thought you’d attack the bagel and soft pretzel with gusto! it makes me feel better knowing i’m not the only one who like, fears the bread products sometimes. πŸ™‚
      pizza dough! how exciting! and homemade pizza dough really is awesome, i’m so proud of you! and (ahem) someone better be posting that recipe online at some point…YUM.

      thanks! i’m not even a superstar, but it does feel exciting. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Ashley January 15, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Don’t you just see a wee baby goat clutching a huge camera to its face and taking picture after picture??? Followed by a huge bite out of the photo subject?

    Congrats, congrats, a huge congrats on the nomination! I’m so excited for you and sending good luck vibes to you!

    And hip, hip hooray for yeast success!!! See, you’re doing it! You’re utterly dominating yeast, showing it you’re the boss while still playing nicely! Woo! Plus those pretzels look delicious.

  • Reply natalie January 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm


    I told you they were so easy! And so delicious! I’m so glad they worked out for you, good to know I can keep my “street cred” (for this recipe at least) πŸ™‚

    Make sure you freeze them all as soon as they cool, or else you will end up eating 239482423 lbs of soft pretzels…. it seems like a good idea at the time, but…….

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      yay for YOUR pretzels! We’re making them again for the Super Bowl. or, i have been told “we” are making them again. It has been decreed. πŸ™‚

      erm…well…the pretzels didn’t make it to the freezer. mostly because we at them. but next time…next time i will freeze them.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats January 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    What did Lottie have to say about your comparison of your yeast projects to wet sheep?!?!

    Congrats on the Best Food Blog nomination. You totally deserve it!!! Reading your blog post is one of the highlights of my day πŸ™‚

    These pretzels look totally amazing. I’m so proud of you for overcoming your yeast fear. You totally have shown it who’s boss! Love the idea of pretzel bits. I think if I finally do attempt pretzels, the bits are the way to go πŸ™‚

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Lottie agreed that a wet sheep is an unfun sheep. πŸ™‚

      Thanks! evidently i must be big time since i’m just now getting a chance to reply to comments (real problem: NOT big time, but rather paralyzed with fear about the awards ceremony, so now that that’s over…) Thank you very much for saying that; i feel that way about your posts; it’s nice we’ve all found each other. i like that.

      Eeeee pretzels! They did the work themselves, baking up all pretty and golden outside; a testament to a great recipe, for sure (I just managed to not ruin it!). πŸ™‚ pretzel bites were fun to make, for sure. although i’m up in the air about what was easier; there was less scurrying around with 8 large pretzels than there was with millions of bites, but you didn’t have to shape them, so…toss up. both fun and delicious.

  • Reply Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen January 16, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    How exciting!! Congratulations.. I’ll be cheering for ya’!! I love pretzels.. these did turn out just perfectly!!xx

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks, Barbara! I needed the cheering, for sure. I was so nervous.

  • Reply movita beaucoup January 19, 2013 at 6:01 am

    I’ve gotta say, you’re killin’ this term at baking school. Nicely done, prodigy!

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      *fist pumps* thanks. πŸ™‚ I’m just happy i’m finally attending baking school. It’s about time!

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog January 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Congrats, Shannon! Your blog is amazing; as are you, my friend. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. These pretzels look amazing. You’ve turned into quite the yeast master.

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Thanks Jennie! I am still in quite the state of shock they picked me, you know? There’s so many great food blogs out there, and i was so nervous. I’m no yeast master yet, but your rolls got the ball (ahem) rolling (giggle), and my success with those really helped make these manageable. so thank you again for that!

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