Frugal Recipe: Homemade Pretzels

By Marissa Bognanno of "The Boot" Blog, 

Add pretzels to my list of Delicious Foods That Don't Exist In Italy. Remind me why I live there again, please? Yesterday afternoon I made these pretzels on a whim and then I proceeded to call everyone I know to tell them that I am baking genius. Never in my life have I succeeded so well with a dough to bread-like-substance recipe. Usually it doesn't rise, or comes out rock hard, or is just blah. Not these, my friends, not these. They are SUPER easy to make, as delicious as a mall pretzel and will impress your friends. So wash your hands and pull out your ingredients because today you're making pretzels.

The Mall Pretzels (makes 6)
adapted from Jeannie Yee
¾ cup warm water (110°F)
1 ¼ tsp of active dry yeast (half of a .25 ounce package)
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (110°F)
2 tbsp baking soda (for soaking)
½ tbsp butter, melted
coarse kosher salt (or pretzel salt)
mustard, for dipping (optional)
Pour ¾ cup warm water into a mixing bowl. Dissolve yeast, brown sugar, and salt into the water. Stir in flour. When mixture comes together, dump onto a floured surface. Knead dough about 8 minutes, until smooth. Pour a few drops of olive oil into mixing bowl; place dough in and turn to coat surface. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
When dough is ready, cut into 6 pieces. Roll each into ½ inch thick ropes. Shape pretzels by forming a U, then twisting ends and flipping over onto itself, gently pressing overlapping dough to seal. Let rise for 15 minutes.
Fill a bowl with 1 cup warm water. Add baking soda and stir. Soak each pretzel for 30 seconds, flipping over halfway through if not fully submerged. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle coarse salt over top. (If you prefer sweet pretzels, use cinnamon sugar instead of salt.) Bake at 450°F for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. For an extra buttery flavor, brush on a little more melted butter when the pretzels come out of the oven. 
Mmm, the crispy, buttery outer edges, the soft innards, that yeasty pretzel taste, the tang of the grey poupon, the satisfaction of having skillz in the kitchen...
Don't mind me - it's just pretzel gloat. 

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