Originally published 21/01 2018, last updated 18/05/2021
This is really easy and fairly simple recipe for soft cinnamon pretzels. It is the American version (with UK measurements), which is soft and fluffy, unlike the German style traditional hard pretzels.
I got into making pretzels when I tasted the most amazing cinnamon pretzel from a street coffee stall in London. The taste is just so delicious, sweet and slightly chewy. Although there is a bit of preparation involved, it’s a pretty easy recipe to make.
We normally bake a batch of pretzels on Sunday and it’s great fun to bake with children too. This recipe is for cinnamon pretzels, which is the simplest versions of filling (or toppings if you like), but you can swap it for chocolate, peanut butter or any other topping you fancy.
Why make this recipe?
- It taste exactly like the soft American pretzels sold in coffee places and shopping centres
- It’s delicious to eat
- Involves slightly advanced technique, which will push your bread baking out of your comfort zone
What exactly is soft cinnamon pretzel?
Soft cinnamon pretzels are made from enriched yeasted dough, which has been sweetened. They are dipped in a solution of soda and water just before they get baked making their texture deliciously chewy and soft.
They are perfect on their own or as a sweet snack with coffee or tea.
My top tips on making this recipe successfully the first time round
- Don’t add any extra flour to your work surface as you knead to keep your pretzels dough amazingly soft
- The pretzels are baked at quite low temperature of 160C for fan oven or 180C for regular oven. If you see that they are still browning way too fast, lower the temperature by another 20 degrees.
What makes this recipe work
- Without a doubt it’s the the cinnamon sugar dusting!
- Dipping the pretzels into a hot water solution of baking soda before you bake them
Any specialist equipment needed?
Nothing too complicated, just use a large (and wide) plastic container for the soda solution and something to dip the pretzels in. I’m usually using two forks.
On the top of that, I use just the basic bread baking equipment, like mixing bowl, spatula and dough scraper.
Time saving tip
I call it a time saving tips, but I know some wouldn’t… If you don’t have the time to bake the pretzels on the same day, you can easily leave to prove the dough overnight (or during the day) in the fridge. Either way, about 8 hours in the fridge is equivalent of 1 hour in room temperature.
The recipe calls for dunking the pretzels dough in a solution of hot water and baking soda. This solution is very strong and has an annoying habit of spilling or dripping on a work counter as you work.
We have hardwood kitchen tops and the soda left pretty bad black stains on the wood. To this date, I wasn’t able to scrub it or clean it with anything, so just be careful!
You will need strong white bread flour for this recipe or very strong Canadian bread flour.
I’ve tested this recipe with different types of white bread flour and they all work fine.
The very strong Canadian bread flour has slightly higher amount of gluten, which means that in theory you’ll get a better rise. I say, in theory, because your kneading technique, amount of water or adding extra flour when kneading have far bigger impact on the softness of the dough than the flour itself.
I like to use full fat (blue) milk when I’m baking enriched sweet breads, but you are welcome to use any kind of milk you like. Just bear in mind that the richer the milk is the extra flavour it adds.
You can also use just water or plant based milk and the recipe will work as it is.
I usually use one sachet fast-action dried yeast per batch. If you are using fresh yeast, double up the amount and make sure you leave the yeast to froth up with some warm water and sugar.
I think using a dark brown muscovado sugar in this recipe is a game changer! By all means, use regular caster sugar, but the amount of flavour you get from the the muscovado sugar is just amazing!
For the best flavour use unsalted butter. If using salted butter, don’t add any more salt.
Fine cooking salt is the best, as it dissolves quickly without any problems.
Bicarbonate of soda
To create the hot water solution, you will need baking soda – doesn’t matter what type.
Don’t worry about shaping the dough into pretzels, you can make chunky sticks or something similar. Mine ended up looking like butterflies!
The method – Instructions
STEP 1 – MIX EVERYTHING TOGETHER
Put the flour, yeast, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl and mix together to combine.
In a large jug, mix together 300ml lukewarm milk and the butter. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk, mixing together to form a rough dough.
STEP 2 – KNEAD YOUR DOUGH
Tip out onto your work surface and knead for 10-15 mins or until smooth and elastic. Try to avoid adding any extra flour and use vegetable or sunflower oil if your hands are sticking too much to the dough.
STEP 3 – LEAVE YOUR DOUGH TO PROVE (FIRST RISE)
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and set aside until doubled in size, about 1hr. You can leave to prove the dough in the fridge overnight. It will take about 8 hrs to rise, but it will also improve flavour.
STEP 4 – SHAPE YOUR PRETZELS & LEAVE TO RISE (SECOND RISE)
Once risen, knock out the air bubbles in the dough and divide into 8-12 equal pieces, depending on how large you want your pretzels to be.
Using your hands, roll each piece into a long rope about 30 cm long. Make sure you stretch the dough from the middle, otherwise the gluten in the dough will fight you back.
To form into pretzels, lay the rope in a U-shape with the curve pointing towards you. Take the two ends and cross them over.
Take the ends, lift them backwards and press them into the curve of the U-shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Carefully place the pretzels on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and lightly greased with oil.
Cover lightly with oiled cling film. Set aside for about 20 mins until puffy (but not fully risen like bread dough).
STEP 5 – DIPP THE PRETZELS INTO THE SODA WATER
Fill a heatproof bowl with boiling water and dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in. I’ve used 3 tablespoons of baking soda, but I know other people use it a little less.
One at a time, carefully lift the pretzels and dip them in the soda solution. Repeat with all and place them back on the baking tray. Be careful with the hot baking soda solution as it’s can stain work counters and some utensils.
Once you have them all dipped in the baking soda solution and back on the trays, place them straight into your preheated oven.
This step is what makes the pretzels amazingly soft and slightly chewy inside when they are baked.
STEP 6 – BAKE & DUST IN CINNAMON SUGAR
Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until a golden brown. Once baked, brush them with some more melted butter and dip them into the cinnamon sugar. Allow to cool on a wire rack and serve with your best coffee!
Depending on the size of your pretzels, you will get about 10-12 medium size pretzels from this recipe.
Can I scale up or down this recipe?
Yes, of course! I’ve made 1/2 of the dough last time when I was testing a different flavour topping, so there is not problem in halving the recipe ingredients and making 1/2 the amount.
If you are not an experienced baker, you might not realise that whilst the proving time might be slightly shorter (you are proving smaller dough) the baking time will remain the same, unless you are making small size pretzels or little pretzel sticks.
Scaling up is easy too, just double or triple the recipe if you like. You need 2 trays for one batch, so unless you have a double oven, I would probably stick to just doubling the recipe. I can fit 4 trays in one oven by placing the last tray at the bottom and swapping them around depending on how quickly they bake.
Can this recipe be made in advance?
Yes, to a point – the pretzels are best eaten on the same day, but they can be frozen and kept easily for up to 3-6 months.
How to store soft pretzels
These soft cinnamon pretzels are best eaten on the day, but if you wanted to freeze them, I would leave them to cool down first without brushing them with melted butter and dipping them in the cinnamon sugar.
Freeze the pretzels on the same day. When you want to eat them warm them up in the oven on 180C for 5-7 minutes and then brush them with melted butter and cover with cinnamon sugar.
The best thing is that your house will smell amazing and everyone will think that you’ve been spending the whole day in the kitchen when all you did was just open your freezer!
Soft Cinnamon Pretzel Questions & Answers
What are soft pretzels made of?
Soft pretzels are very similar to a bagels and they are always made with yeasted dough using bread flour. They contain more water than hard salt pretzels, milk and butter which is what makes them soft.
How many calories are in one cinnamon pretzel?
This of course depends on how big you make your pretzels and how much sugar you cover it with, but if you think about the size of a commercial pretzel, you are looking at around 450-500 calories per one large cinnamon pretzel.
How do you reheat a soft pretzel?
Cinnamon pretzels taste delicious when they are warm, so to reheat your soft pretzel just pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds or so. Oven set for 180C for 5 minutes will do the same trick.
Can you freeze a soft pretzel?
You can save yourself a lot of time by batch baking and then freezing your soft pretzels until you need them. You can freeze soft pretzels when they are baked, but before they are coated in sugar. The sugat is very likely turn soggy as you defrost the pretzels, so I would freeze them before you do any coating. Once defrosted again, bake them at 180C for about 5 minutes and then coat them with sugar and cinnamon.
Can you freeze a soft pretzel dough?
Yes, you can freeze the pretzel dough up to 3 months. When you want to make your pretzels, just defrost the dough overnight in the fridge and continue with the recipe.
Why do you dip pretzels in baking soda?
The baking soda helps to give the pretzels their chewiness, flavour and colour. In a case of a hard pretzels, they get their lovely crunch and shine from the baking soda bath.
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Soft Cinnamon Pretzels
- 500 grams strong white bread flour
- 300 – 320 ml of milk semi-skimmed or full-fat – whatever you have at hand
- 7 grams fast-action dried yeast 1 sachet
- 25 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
- 50 grams unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt up to 1 teaspoon depending your taste
- oil for greasing
For the water dip
- 2 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda up to 3 tablespoons
- 500 ml boiling water
- Cinnamon and caster sugar mixed together for dusting
- First of all, put the flour, yeast, sugar and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl and mix together to combine.
- In a large jug, mix together 300ml lukewarm milk and the butter. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk, mixing together to form a rough dough.
- Tip out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10-15 mins or until smooth and elastic.
- Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and set aside until doubled in size, about 1hr. You can leave to prove the dough in the fridge over night. It will take about 8 hrs to rise, but it will also improve flavour.
- Once risen, knock out the air bubbles in the dough and divide into 8-12 equal pieces, depending on how large you want your pretzels to be.
- Using your hands, roll each piece into a long rope about 30 cm long. Make sure you stretch the dough from the middle, otherwise the gluten in the dough will fight you back.
- To form into pretzels, lay the rope in a U-shape with the curve pointing towards you. Take the two ends and cross them over.
- Take the ends, lift them backwards and press them into the curve of the U-shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 5.
- Carefully place the pretzels on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and lightly greased with oil.
- Cover lightly with oiled cling film. Set aside for about 20 mins until puffy (but not fully risen like bread dough).
- Fill a heatproof bowl with a boiling water and dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in. I've used 3 tablespoons of baking soda, but I know other people use a little less.
- One at a time, carefully lift the pretzels and dip them in the soda solution. repeat with all and place them back to the baking tray.
- Once you have them all dipped in the baking soda solution and back on the trays, place them straight into your preheated oven.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until a golden brown. Once baked, brush them with some more melted butter and dip them into the cinnamon sugar. Allow to cool on a wire rack and serve with your best coffee!