Easy Vegan Soft Pretzels
It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted a new recipe! This summer I spent my time working at a local vegan bakery and I’ve absolutely loved it. So much that I actually did tear up a little bit once the week before classes rolled around because I just didn’t want to go back to school and not get to spend everyday at the bakery! I’ve learned a lot of new things over the summer and it’s just overall been really great.
Anyway, back to the point of the post. I discovered sometime within the past year that I really love making bread dough, there’s something so therapeutic about the whole process; it helps me relieve stress and relax a little bit. That being said, I’ve often thought, surely there are things to make other than bread, pizza, and cinnamon rolls, I just didn’t know what to make! That is, until last weekend when I woke up on Sunday morning and thought to myself, “I think I’ll try and make pretzels today!”
I’ve never made pretzels. Or had a homemade soft pretzel before, for that matter. But, you don’t learn if you don’t try, right? I at least knew the basics, so that was a bonus. Plus they’re actually a lot easier to make than you would think, provided you have a bit of patience.
The dough itself is a pretty standard dough that I’ve been using for quite some time for breads, pizza, and things of that sort. You can absolutely use a store-bought pizza dough if you’re tight on time or just feeling a bit lazy, but nothing beats a homemade dough, I promise.
These pretzels are soft and fluffy, a bit chewy, and have a tiny bit of a crunch to the outside. Brushed with a little vegan butter, they remind me of my favorite Auntie Anne’s pretzels I used to dream about every time we went to the mall. These are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven, but can be stored in a zip-top bag for about 5-6 days and re-heated in the oven or microwave. I like to pack them up and take them to campus with me for a study snack in between classes.
Easy Vegan Soft Pretzels
Makes about 8 pretzels
For the dough
- 1 Cup warm water
- 1 Tbsp sugar (or maple syrup, agave, etc.)
- 1 Tbsp dry yeast
- 2 1/2 ish Cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
To prepare the pretzels:
- 8 Cups water
- 2 Tbsp baking soda
- Optional: 1 Tbsp vegan butter
- Coarsely ground sea salt or rock salt
Start by combining the warm water, sugar, and yeast, and give it a good stir. Let that mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes until it is super foamy. While the yeast blooms, combine the salt and 1 cup of the flour in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Once the yeast is bloomed, add that mixture to the flour and salt and stir well with a wooden spoon, so the mixture is completely smooth. At this point you can slowly start adding in the remaining flour, starting with another 1/2 cup, and then another.
After you’ve added 2 cups, it’ll be hard to stir with the spoon and you’ll want to turn the dough out onto a well floured surface to start kneading in the rest of the flour. I like to put about a 1/4 cup of flour onto the counter then work that flour in and add the remaining 1/4 cup as needed. The amount of flour will vary each time, so don’t worry about being exact. You just want to add enough flour so the dough is smooth and just slightly sticky to the touch. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, then place back into the mixing bowl (oil the bowl and toss the dough in the oil to make it easier to get out later), cover with a damp towel, and let the dough rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, fill a pot with the 8 cups of water and 2 tbsp baking soda and place it over high heat to bring it to a boil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit at this time as well. Remove the dough from the bowl and portion it out into 8 equal portions (or less if you want bigger pretzels, and more if you want smaller). Gently roll each piece of dough out as you would with play-dough to make a long snake, being careful not to tear the dough. Shape the pretzels and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet while you shape the rest.
Once the water is boiling, place one pretzel in the water and boil it for roughly 15 seconds per side, remove the pretzel using a kitchen spider or a spatula, and place it back on the parchment while you boil the rest. If you’re really craving that soft buttery pretzel you love so much, brush a little melted vegan butter over the tops of the pretzels and sprinkle a bit of coarsely ground salt on top. Bake the pretzels for about 12-15 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown. Allow them to cool before eating the entire tray.