Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels & Easter

My kids generally associate soft pretzels with a trip to the mall. We had some “buy one get one” coupons one time last summer and so we indulged. Neither trips to the mall nor soft pretzels are a regular occurrence in our family. Too expensive.

But, needless to say, the memory has stuck. And since no one really got to eat his fill of said soft pretzels, the desire to eat more has always lingered.

Believe it or not, pretzels have a much more spiritual history than mere mega malls. In fact, it is said that medieval monks developed them as a way to help children learn their prayers. The pretzel shape is supposed to be reminiscent of praying hands.

And, believe it or not, pretzels have their roots in the history of Easter. Since eggs and butter were forbidden foods during Lent — and since many pretzel recipes can be made without eggs and butter, pretzels were a permissible food during that time.

Eggs, a food that one would abstain from during Lent, would be hardboiled for longer storage. And eventually it came about that children were served two hard boiled eggs nestled in the hollows of a pretzel on Easter morning. That pretzel eventually evolved into “the Easter Basket.” Pretty cool, eh?

Who knew?

Whether you abstain from butter and eggs — now or anytime — soft pretzels are a delicious treat. And making them at home elevates them to a super-duper-outstanding level of deliciousness. They are easy to prepare, but there are several steps involved. Consider making several batches in a row so that you can eat your fill.

Well, if you don’t have six kids, maybe one batch will suffice.

How do YOU like your pretzels? Savory or sweet?

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Comments

  1. I love all things pretzels! I love both the sweet and savory, but I think I really like butter and salt together :)

  2. Thank you for posting this recipe!!!! I’ve tried a few (flops!) pretzel recipes. My kids LOVE them and I can’t wait to try this one.

  3. Thank you for sharing this story. At Easter here (Portugal) and in Germany, we see breads (and maybe pretzels–can’t remember) with hard boiled eggs sticking out. Helps us understand why now. Looks like a great recipe too!

  4. Shannon L says:

    Wow! You never cease to amaze me with your ability to find ways to prepare food that is not only delicious, but also healthy(ier). Best of all, it looks soo yummy!

    I’ve got to get a breadmaker so I can make these. Then again, I might be stuck in the kitchen day in and day out!

    • @Shannon L, you’re sweet. You can make them without a bread machine, just follow standard procedure for traditional bread. Warm the milk and water, add the other ingredients, knead, and rise. I’m just too lazy to learn how to do that well.

  5. These look fabulous! and I didn’t know that little tidbit of the Easter basket. I had boiled eggs for breakfast since I’m cutting carbs this week, and then you go post these yummy pretzels that my kids would love!! Torture ;) But I’m definitely bookmarking it for the very near future!

  6. Thanks for this recipe! My daughter was just saying the other day that she wanted to make pretzels :)

  7. Brandette says:

    We use bread and all-purpose flours. Could I change up the recipe to only use the bread flour??

  8. I never knew the pretzel background story :-) How cool!
    We make soft pretzels here too… usually smothered in cinnamon sugar, because you’re right, Jessica, the whole wheat makes them taste healthy, and we usually end up using all whole wheat (the freshly ground stuff we use doesn’t make them as dense as store bought whole wheat would, so we can get by with it). Thanks for the new recipe.

  9. You have an incredible way about you that makes almost anything seem easy to make at home. I have seen pretzel recipes before and I was very intimidated to attempt it. This seems doable and very fun! My children will LOVE the roll into snakes part. Thanks! And thanks for history behind them..will share while making!!

  10. These look great! Cant wait to try them on saturday

  11. I printed them out right away, they look awesome. We actually just bought some frozen ones at Costco but as soon as those are gone, I’m making these, thanks!

  12. I love your blog and appreciate how well-rounded your Life As Mom blog is, as well. However, I wanted to point out that you can’t really call something whole wheat if the whole wheat flour only makes up 1/4th of the flour in the recipe. I think, but am not sure, that it is okay as long as it makes up more than 50% of the flour in the recipe. Nevertheless, these sound yummy and I may have to make them soon!

    • Well, I am guessing you’re probably right, especially if I was selling the product. But, since they taste so wheaty already, I don’t think I would add more. But, I will remember that o the next one.

  13. Oooooo, these look so good! Thanks for sharing this. I can’t wait to try them.

  14. I made these last night. I used a mixer instead of a bread maker. I also used all Hard Whie Wheat freshly ground.

    These are SO GOOD! They taste better then what you get at the mall!!

    The only thing I changed was the temp! I moved it down to 390 for the second batch because the first batch got a little brown on the bottom. I didn’t have the paper to put down so that might have not helped. I’ll try it that way this weekend!

    • JL Gosey says:

      @Amy, Are you saying you used 100% hard white wheat and no bread flour? I was wondering about doing that myself as I read through the recipe. Did you change any other ingredients?

      • @JL Gosey,
        JL – Yes! I used 100 % Freshly ground Hard White Wheat. I did not use any bread flour or make any other changes to her Recipe.

        I also used the parchment paper when I made them this past weekend and had no issue with them getting too brown.

        They are so very good and with the Hard White Wheat they taste even better than the ones at the mall!!

  15. Do you think you can you sub AP for most of the bread flour and sub in a little more whole wheat flour to up the protien content (thus replacing the need for bread flour)? Or do you think that would make them too tough?

    • @Anna, hmmm… good question. I’m not really sure. Wanna try and let us know? ;)

      • @Jessica, Gave it a try- they came out delicious! I remember hearing a TV chef remark that you can sub AP for bread flour if you mix in a little whole wheat flour to up the protien content… Guess it’s true!

    • Sabrina says:

      I would add a little bit of baking powder and salt (sort of like adding self rising flour). 1 cup AP, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt =1 cup self rising flour. I’m going to try and make these like this soon, as I like to use more whole wheat flour.

  16. We made these yesterday and my 6 year-old rolled and shaped them all himself. They were fantastic! Thanks so much for this great recipe and the history!!!

  17. I buy fast rising yeast and soy lecithin from Fast Easy Bread. I can make dough in 15 mins and then skip to the shaping and boiling. Can’t wait to try it. Thank you for the idea and history.

  18. I’m salivating! Recipe is printing and I can’t wait! Thanks!

  19. ok, you just don’t know….I’ve been searching for a pretzel recipe since December. My mother used to make them, but since she is no longer with us, I don’t have her recipe. I wanted a recipe where I could use my bread machine to make the dough process easier. I never found that recipe. Till now.

    Thank you! I can’t wait to try these!

  20. These look SO good! My dad grew up in PA, so when we go back for a visit, the first thing he and I do is look for a pretzel stand. We’ll happily have pretzels with mustard for breakfast. The rest of the family thinks we’re a little nuts, but so be it! I can’t do sweet pretzels…that’s just WRONG! ;-). Like taco pizza, some things just shouldn’t be…

    Cindy

  21. Deanna Call says:

    I went to buy the ingredients over the weekend for these. I don’t have any “specialty” stores in my area, just a Wal-Mart and Meijer….I couldn’t find anything labeled bread flour. What am I missing?

    • I buy huge bags of bread flour at Walmart, so I’m confused that you couldn’t find it. It’s right next to the regular flour, usu a yellow bag.

  22. Ok, I have a stupid question (and I bake quite a bit, just never made pretzels before…). When you say roll it out to about 18″, do you roll out with a rolling pin or like you’re working with Play-Doh? They didn’t seem to stretch easily using the Play-Doh method but the rolling pin seemed to flatten them too much. Was I just not being agressive enough on the Play-Doh method???

    Thanks – they’re in the oven now, can’t wait!

  23. These are terrific! Thanks for the recipe!

  24. I’ve been wanting to make pretzels with my fresh-ground flour and finally decided to give it a try. My google search brought up your recipe and I just finished making a batch. After reading the instructions and before actually making them I wondering about the bath part, how could they possibly keep their shape? Wouldn’t the work surface get horribly messy? I read many of the comments before diving in but couldn’t find one from anybody who actually made them, as opposed to “I’m going to try these” or “Great post, can’t wait to do it myself”. So without much guidance, I dove in. The bath part was very strange and it was difficult to get the buggers out of the water without mutilating them. I started out putting them directly on the parchment paper but after a big mess, I added a step of putting them on paper towel first. I still don’t know the purpose for the bath step but I trust there must be a good reason. In the end I somehow still ended up with 11 pretzels, most of which actually really do resemble a pretzel!!! Now for the real test…I made each family member try a bite and give me their honest review. They all grabbed a plate and their own pretzel and are sitting at the table gobbling them up. I guess that speaks for itself! Thanks for the recipe. I wonder what would happen if skipped that water step. Hmmm…

    • The water bath is a traditional part of making pretzels. They just won’t have the right texture if you baked them without the bath. Glad it worked out for you in the end!

  25. This recipe will be perfect to use up 2 flours that I have but never use … Plus I know my crew loves some soft pretzels. :)

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