Pretzels are a classic German bread, and we’re sticking largely to tradition with these spelt pretzels. Soft baked, they’re best the day they’re made, and seasoned with coarse salt. Of course, pretzels come in all shapes and sizes and there are a number of modern varieties now.
Typically boiled with a diluted lye mixture, we’re using baking soda to get the same flavour. Lye can be harder to find and is more dangerous to work with, and baking soda causes the Maillard reaction in much the same way.
Spelt flour adds an excellent depth of flavour to these pretzels and the dough is really easy to work with (only resting for a few minutes, no proof or rising time needed). While the shaping can be a bit tricky for beginners, it’s not complicated, and you can see the video for more guidance.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Spelt flour: use light spelt for best results, but you can do a mix of light and whole grain if you’re feeling confident. I recommend using all light or white spelt the first time you make them.
- Yeast: fresh yeast is pictured, but instant dry can also be used. Don’t use traditional yeast for this recipe.
- Water: room temperature, not cold (this is important).
- Olive oil: another liquid oil or (vegan) butter can be subbed here. Don’t omit the oil, you’ll get tough pretzels.
- Salt: for the dough and for topping. Coarse salt is ideal but flake is good too.
Step by Step
Step 1: mix the yeast, honey, water, then whisk in the oil.
Step 2: stir in the dry ingredients to form a shaggy dough.
Step 3: knead until a soft ball of dough forms.
Step 4: split the dough into ten equal pieces.
Step 5: roll into long strands, then form a U-shape to start shaping a pretzel.
Step 6: twist the tops of the strands over each other.
Step 7: turn once to make a twist.
Step 8: fold the dough down so that the tops of each strand are now at the bottom of the U.
Step 9: boil the pretzels in baking soda water and place on a baking sheet.
Step 10: bake until golden and serve warm if possible.
If you can’t see the accompanying video in the post, watch it here on Youtube instead.
If the notes on shaping are confusing, please reference the video. It’s not complicated, but can be a bit difficult to grasp the first time – don’t worry if the first couple look a bit wonky.
The boiling time is very short, shorter than for bagels, for example. They just need a quick dip before baking.
Use two baking sheets if you have them. If you only have one, set aside half the dough, then shape, boil, and bake after the first batch is finished. You don’t want to leave boiled pretzels sitting around waiting to bake.
While I do have lye on hand for making soap, I haven’t tested this recipe using lye water. It’s simply not accessible enough and baking soda is an ideal sub.
How to Store
Storage: these simply don’t store well. If you don’t think you can eat a dozen in one day, I would recommend halving the batch rather than storing. Day old pretzels make excellent croutons, though! They can be kept in a sealed container for a couple of days but will go stale.
Freezing: transfer cooled pretzels to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months. Spritz with a little water and heat up in the oven to refresh them after thawing.
- Refrigerate the yeast: for the longest shelf life of your yeast, keep it in an opaque container in the refrigerator.
- Don’t let the dough rise: this is a no-rise recipe, so the dough shouldn’t be set aside to rise before shaping. If it does, the pretzels won’t hold their shape properly.
- Test your yeast: if your unsure of the age or efficacy of your yeast, test a pinch of it in a tablespoon of warm water before beginning. It should bloom (expand and foam up) within a few minutes if it’s still good.
More Spelt Flour Recipes
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- 300 ml water at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- ½ cube fresh yeast 2 1/4 teaspoons dried instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 550 grams light spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Coarse salt for topping
- 2 litres water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Add the water, honey, and yeast to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.300 ml water, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 cube fresh yeast
- Stir in the olive oil.1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add about a third of the flour and the sea salt. Stir to mix, then add the remaining flour and mix until a shaggy dough forms.550 grams light spelt flour, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth and soft, sprinkling flour over as needed, 5-6 minutes.
- Place the dough back into the bowl and let it rest for ten minutes while you prep the water and oven.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and grease or line two large baking sheets.
- Bring 2 litres (8 cups) of water to boil. Once the water is boiling, add the baking soda and reduce the heat to a high simmer rather than a rolling boil.2 litres water, 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Start shaping the pretzels. Divide the dough into ten equal pieces (I recommend weighing). Shape each piece into a ball, then roll into a long strand, about 40cm (16 in.) in length.
- Form a U-shape with the dough strand. Take each end and cross the dough over itself to make an X at the top, then twist once more, so you have a double twist.
- Lift the twisted end and bring it back toward yourself, then press it down to form the pretzel shape. Brush lightly with water where the dough touches to ensure a better join.
- Repeat until all of the pretzels are formed.
- Boil each pretzel for 15-20 seconds, then carefully remove with a large slotted spoon. Place onto the prepared baking sheets and sprinkle the tops with salt.Coarse salt
- Bake the pretzels for 15-17 minutes, or until golden.
- Cool for ten minutes on the baking sheets before removing and serving.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
If you’re looking for approachable, seasonal vegetarian recipes, you’re in the right place! Occasionally Eggs is all about healthier plant based recipes that follow the seasons.