Much like that commercial where Oprah declares her love of bread, I love soft pretzels! If they’re on the appetizer list at a restaurant, it’s pretty much a guarantee I’m going to need to try them. Of course the cost of eating out can add up, so I wanted to learn to make my own soft pretzels at home.

I’ve made this Alton Brown recipe before, with results I was pretty happy with, but I wanted to tweak it to make it more my own. Amber had a surplus of sourdough discard after getting into making bread, so I started swapping out some of the flour and water in the recipe for that to give the pretzels some extra tang.

And of course, what are pretzels without cheese? Similar to the pretzels, I started with this recipe, but wound up making some changes when I realized I didn’t have all the necessary dairy at home. Using a combination of milk, sour cream, cream cheese and shredded cheeses, the result was a super rich and creamy cheese dip that’s easily customizable with the shredded cheeses of your choosing.

Sourdough Soft Pretzels

Ingredients

For Dough:
  • 1 cup warm water (110 – 115 degrees, too warm can kill the yeast)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one packet)
  • 18 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces sourdough discard (unfed)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbsp water
  • Pretzel salt
For Boiling:
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda

Instructions

  1. Combine the water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl) then add in the yeast, stir briefly. Let sit for 5 to 7 minutes until the mixture begins to foam.
  2. Add the flour, butter and salt to the bowl. Use a dough hook attachment on low speed and mix until well-combined. Increase mixer to medium speed and and knead the dough until it’s smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl. This will take about 4 to 5 minutes, or longer if you’re kneading by hand.
  3. Oil a separate large container and cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let rise in a warm area for approximately an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. An oven with the light turned on works great for this, just make sure that you DO NOT turn on your oven accidentally.
  4. Once the dough has risen, combine the water and baking soda in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. At the same time set the oven to 450 degrees to preheat and line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
  5. Turn the dough out onto an oiled workspace and split into two equal portions. At this point you can stick one half into the fridge to save to cook at a later time, or make them all at once. Either way, split each half into four equal portions and roll those out. You can try and make some fancy shapes, but I opted to just roll them out thinner and chop them into roughly 1-inch pieces.
  6. Once the water is boiling, drop the pretzel nuggets a few at a time and let float for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water and place on the prepared pans.
  7. Once all pretzels have been removed from the water, brush them with the egg and water mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

Smoked Gouda and Sharp Cheddar Cheese Dip

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 8-9 ounces of cheese, shredded to equal approximately two cups
    • I used 7 ounces of sharp white cheddar and 2 ounces of smoked gouda. You can swap out cheeses and adjust ratios according to your taste.

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until dissolved and smooth.
  2. Slowly whisk in the milk, salt, cayenne, sour cream and cream cheese. Lower heat to medium low and simmer to thicken slightly.
  3. Stir in the shredded cheese until completely melted and smooth.