2016 is all about pizza and pretzels, but most importantly it’s about pizza and pretzels coming together to create one MEGA snack; the Pizza Pretzel. This is what happens when a soft pretzel meets cheesy pepperoni pizza. They have a crazy night together and then BAM, 9 months later the pizza pretzel is born. I’m almost positive that’s how it happened. Regardless of how they came to be, I’m just happy that they were invented, but I’m more happy that I can’t ever go to a mall without craving one of these…for shopping fuel, of course. The best part is the warm pizza sauce on the side for dipping and dunking. So rather than continue going to the mall to spend money on things I really don’t need, just as an excuse to buy the snack of my dreams, I thought it would be more beneficial to both you and I, if I were to make them at home from scratch. That way we can have them at our fingertips whenever we need them.
These are a take on a post from way back when; a post I like to call, Soft Pretzels. It’s a super old post that I’m not too found of because the photos aren’t that all that good, and I really didn’t know what the heck I was doing in the first place, but I was doing it anyway. I thought it would be a good idea to share it either way because you’d be able to get a better understanding of how to make and shape pretzels from scratch. So with that being said, follow that link above and you’ll have a more detailed post on all you need to know about making soft pretzels in the comfort of your own home. Go ahead and make them in your pajamas. No one is here to judge you.
These soft pretzels however, are even better than the original because they’re topped with lots and lots of shredded cheese and sliced pepperoni. A simple pepperoni pizza will forever be a guilty pleasure of mine. Sometimes, simple is best. And just when you think that things couldn’t get any better, I’m serving these pizza pretzels with pizza sauce on the side for dipping, just like those mall joints we’ve all fallen in love with do. So let 2016 be the year we get adventurous in the kitchen. Let this be the year we overcome our fear of making homemade bread dough from scratch. Soft pretzels right from the oven are one of life’s greatest pleasures. Don’t miss out. They’re especially more pleasurable when turned into pizza. That’s all I have to say.
Let’s start by proofing the yeast in a bit of warm sugar water. In a small bowl, combine about 1/2 a cup of the water, sugar and yeast.
**Note: Proofing the yeast is just a fancy term for waking it up. If you’re using active dry yeast, it’s dry aka it’s asleep so you need to wake it’s lazy butt up. And how do we do this, by mixing it with warm water and a bit of sugar or honey. Yeast is a living thing like you and me, and just like you and me, it needs food. So feed it. Feed it with sugar and honey. Make sure that the water isn’t too hot or you’ll kill it. So it should be warm to the touch.**
Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free spot until foamy and frothy, about 10 minutes. If it doesn’t foam up, then toss it and start from scratch. This is a crucial step that needs to be done right so you end up with the perfect dough.
**Tip: The best place for proofing yeast, and letting dough rise, is an oven that is turn off. You can turn on the oven for about minute to get it warm and then shut it off. That’ll create the perfect environment for activating the yeast.**
In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the water, flour, salt, parmesan cheese, granulated garlic, vegetable oil, and yeast mixture.
**Note: We want this dough to taste like an Italian pizza dough, so that’s why we’re adding parmesan and granulated garlic to the dough itself.**
Mix until the dough comes together, adding as much of the remaining flour as needed in order for the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl, and become soft and somewhat sticky. Knead on high for about 6 to 8 minutes, until soft and smooth. It should be slightly sticky to the touch.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning over to coat both sides, and then cover lightly with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Let rest in a warm, draft-free spot, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn out onto a very lightly floured work surface. Cut into 16 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, work and roll the dough into a very long and thin rope.
Shape and twist into a pretzel shape. I’d try to explain it by writing the directions out, but I’m afraid I’d only confuse you, so let’s let the pictures do all the explaining.
**Note: The dough should be somewhat sticky, so make sure that you don’t flour your work surface. If the dough happens to be super sticky, add a tiny bit of flour. Just a minuscule amount though.**
Place the shaped pretzels on a greased, parchment lined baking sheet.
**Note: You’ll need about 2 baking sheets for this. Even though the baking sheets are lined with parchment paper, this dough will be sticky, so it’s best to lightly grease them with cooking spray.**
Allow the pretzels to rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add the sugar and baking soda. Then carefully drop in the pretzels, one or two at a time and boil for about 30 seconds. Flip over halfway and then return to the baking sheets. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan and top with small pepperoni.
Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to rotate the baking pans halfway through baking to ensure even browning.
Serve the pizza pretzels warm with pizza or marinara sauce on the side for dipping and dunking and drenching. Just like they do in the malls.
**Note: There’s no time to be making your own pizza sauce, so just grab a store-bought pizza sauce to make things easier on yourself. Also though, there’s something so tasty about jarred pizza sauce. You can’t replicate that.**
The great, most awesome thing about this recipe is that you can customize it any way you’d like. Use whatever pizza toppings you love! Try it with pickled jalapeños or bacon or Canadian bacon and pineapple. Go crazy! The pizza pretzel world is your oyster.
Make these pizza pretzels and then keep them in the freezer in a freezer storage bag or airtight container. Leave them in there for up to 3 months, and then just pop them into the freezer until you’re need of a tasty snack.
**Note: If you have a stash of these in the freezer, just rewarm the pizza pretzels in the oven or toaster oven for about 8 to 10 minutes until warmed through.**
If you’ve been wanting to make soft pretzels at home for a while now, but just haven’t had the nerve because you’ve been scared or worried that you can’t do it, now is the time. Forget about all of your worries and just do it. 2016 is your year. Your year to conquer all of your kitchen goals. I believe in you.
- 2 cups warm water, about 100 degrees to 110 degrees
- 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2¼ teaspoons (1¼-ounce packet) active dry yeast
- 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
- ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
- 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup small pepperoni
- 1 cup store-bought pizza sauce, for dipping
- Pour ½ cup of the warm water into a small bowl. Gently stir in 1 tablespoon sugar and yeast. Let sit in a warm, draft-free spot, until foamy and frothy, about 10 minutes. If mixture doesn't foam, toss and start over.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the dough hook, add the remaining water, 4 cups flour, salt, granulated garlic, parmesan, oil, and yeast mixture. Add as much of the remaining flour as needed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Knead on high until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a oiled bowl, turning over to coat both sides. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Let rest in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray. Punch down dough to release the air. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead once or twice, divide dough into 16 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into an 18-inch-long strip. Twist into pretzel shapes and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add baking soda and remaining sugar. Reduce to a simmer. Carefully drop in 1 to 2 pretzels at a time and boil for about 30 seconds. Flip over the pretzels and cook for another 10 to 20 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pretzels back to the baking sheets. Continue until all pretzels are boiled.
- Sprinkle the dough with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and top each with 2 to 3 pepperoni slices. Bake until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and serve with pizza sauce on the side for dipping.
- These pizza pretzels can be made in advance, stored in the freezer for up to 3 months and then rewarmed in oven when ready to eat!