So I have a friend who’s only desire is to eat pretzels. I try to make them every weekend..
This is my journey through pretzel country.
First let me tell you the fundamentals of pretzels. They have to be boiled in baking soda/water, this is how they get to be chewy.
Now I did this with my first batch. I poured in the baking soda into the cold water and when it came to boil, I put it to a simmer. Not the best idea; They tasted like stiff bread.
So I looked into this, and discovered you need to bring it (and keep it) to a rolling boil, then add lots of baking soda (I added about 2/3 cup to 8 cups water – pictures below!). This worked well, except it would explode all over my oven and half the water would be gone. I thought, wow making pretzels is a pain.
And contributing to that pain; when I washed my pot, the baking soda had left a stain around the rim and bottom, impossible to get out. I wondered why this happened, nobody said anything about this in recipes.
This should be written in every recipe “do not use aluminum pots”. Baking Soda does not like aluminum. And my pot, though it is black, is aluminum based and the soda was eating away at my pot. More importantly, that’s why it exploded all over my oven.
So I got out the stainless steel, and it turned nice and balmy. My pretzels started to get better and better. Basically you need to leave them in the baking soda/water until they look puffy (I do 20 seconds each side), throw them onto the baking sheet, butter and salt em up and voila! 12 minutes in the oven and you have pretzels that are chewy. I also found that rising them half of double their size gave them a more fluffy taste (still chewy). The second picture below has a doubled pretzel at the top, and a boiled one on the bottom.