Copycat Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels

When I was in high school one of my friends worked at Auntie Anne’s, she would always bring pretzels to school and we would devour them. I think they make the best mall pretzel around. I’ve never attempted my own until tonight. My husband was craving a hot pretzel so I luckily had all the ingredients at home. This is very simple, takes a little time, but well worth it. Get creative, you can make them thick, thin, into small bites and use different toppings. Salt, cinnamon/sugar and multiple dipping options such as mustard, cream cheese, etc. Video below will help you learn to make the pretzel shape. I let my husband roll these out. Next time I’m jumping in and making some as big as Auntie Anne’s with skinnier longer dough to see how those come out. The ones we did were crispy on the outside and perfectly fluffy in the center. ENJOY!
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Prep: 30 min
Inactive: 1 hour
Cook: 15 minutes
Yields: 6 pretzels and 1/2 cup sauce
Ingredients for the Pretzels:
1 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
5-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing – room temperature
1 teaspoon fine salt (table salt)
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt
3 cups lukewarm water
1 egg to brush on the pretzels before baking – optional
Olive oil or unsalted butter to grease the baking pan
Kosher salt or sea salt
For the sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
Directions to make the pretzels:
Warm the milk in a saucepan until it’s about 110 degrees using a candy thermometer, if you don’t have one, just get it to lightly bubbling on the sides of the pan; pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon. Add in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter butter; stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a large baking sheet with oil or butter, or use parchment paper. Punch the dough to deflate it, and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough seems tight, cover and let rest until it relaxes.) Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.
How to roll, twist, and bake your pretzels video:
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Optional: Lightly brush each pretzel with egg wash (one lightly beaten egg). Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them.
Preparing the sauce:
Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
Melt the remaining butter in a shallow dish. Dip or brush the hot pretzels in the butter, turning to coat; place on a wire rack to let excess butter drip off. Serve the pretzels warm with the sweet mustard sauce, cream cheese, regular mustard, or sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
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