Soft pretzels are a favorite American snack, sold at both malls and at sports games, and enjoyed for their salty taste and chewy texture. But pretzels are much more than a gameday snack. In Germany, as well as neighboring countries, they are as ubiquitous as the baguette is in France and are a popular part of both snacks and regular meals. Pretzel fans will tell you that nothing compares to a warm, chewy pretzel that has been freshly baked – and if you love pretzels but have never experienced that yourself, then you might want to try your hand at the recipes in Pretzel Making at Home, which is dedicated to the love of eating and art of crafting homemade pretzels.
Pretzels are known for have a distinctive yeast and mineral flavors to them that sets them apart from other types of bread, regardless of which type of flour or flavorings you incorporate into your dough. One key ingredient in many of the recipes in the book is beer, which boosts the yeast flavor of the dough, and another is lye, which is used to brown and flavor the exterior of the pretzels. Despite these slightly unusual ingredients that you might not bake with on a regular basis, the recipes in the book are straightforward, so you will be able to make the doughs with ease and only need to worry about trying to get that classic pretzel shape before baking. The recipes include soft pretzels, hard pretzels and a dozen sweet and savory dipping sauces that you can serve with them.
It is much more common to see recipes for soft pretzels than for hard pretzels, which most of us pick up in bags at the grocery store instead of trying to bake, so it is great that the book includes such a diverse array of pretzels. The photos illustrating the recipes are wonderful and will definitely put you in the mood for some salty snacks. I recommend making sure you have a good supply of ingredients before reading too much into the book because once you start, your mouth will start to water and you’ll find yourself wanting to eat (after baking, of course) a few batches of pretzels yourself.