The Soft Pretzel Challenge


The Soft Pretzel Challenge -- join us in baking soft pretzels and submit an image of your process and/or product to be considered for a fabulous prize.  Submit your images via Instagram ( tag uwoceanography) or email (  (Scroll to the bottom for Rick Keil's recipe and pictures)


Easy and fun soft pretzels (beginner level savory baking) -- Rick Keil

Overview: mix up simple ingredients, wait an hour for yeast to rise, roll out shapes, boil in water for 30 seconds, transfer to baking sheet with parchment paper lining, do an egg wash, bake 15 minutes, enjoy! Total time: 2 ½ - 3 hours. Best eaten within 24 hours.

Ingredients: (makes 8 pretzels, recipe doubles well)

  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • ½ cup milk or water, room temp or slightly warm but not hot. 
  • ½ teaspoon sugar 
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoon dry active yeast 
  • 1/8th stick butter, room temperature 
  • 1 egg 
  • Sea salt for topping
  • Baking soda
  • Black sesame seeds for topping 

Options include shredded cheese on top, sunflower seeds or regular sesame seeds, etc. go wild!


  1. Warm oven to 175 or so, then turn off (this is the warm place where the dough will rise)
  2. Warm milk or water to lukewarm but not boiling – 110F is good.
  3. Place flour in mixing bowl and make a little divot in the center. Add the sugar and half the milk to the divot, and add the yeast. Sprinkle with just a little bit of flour. Cover with a towel and let sit for 10 minutes to “proof” the yeast.
  4. After 10 minutes the yeast should have foamed a bit (come to life!!). Add the rest of the milk and also the salt.
  5. Slice the butter into tiny little bit and add that to the flour mix.
  6. Using a dough hook, beat on medium speed until a soft doughy ball forms. If your ingredients are too dry, add a little lukewarm water. If they are a little too wet, add a bit of flour. The dough ball should take about 3-5 minutes to form and should be soft and silky.
  7. Take the ball in your clean hands, roll it around a bit, marvel in the wonders about to occur with the yeast.
  8. Add a finger full of flour to the bottom of the mixing bowl and then put the ball back in the mixing bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a nice warm spot such as the oven you pre-warmed.
  9. Wait one hour or so, up to 2 hours. The dough should about double in size.
  10. Prep the water for the boil. Using the largest frying pan you have, fill it mostly with water and add a couple table spoons of baking soda. Bring it to a boil. You will boil the pretzels for 30 seconds in this liquid.
  11. Take the ball of dough and put it on a cutting board covered with a tiny bit of flour. Flatten the ball and slice it into 8 slices like it is a pizza.
  12. Take each pizza slice and roll it into a long string, more than a foot long. Roll it into a pretzel. That is done in two steps (see pics). Make a U-shape, then twist the top and press the edges down into the classic shape.
  13. Boil them for 30 seconds in the baking soda water. It will foam a bit. You can turn the boil down to medium if you want. Don’t boil for too long – use a timer.
  14. Take the proto-pretzels and place them onto the parchment paper. Tap them a little dry but it is okay if they are wet.
  15. Time for the egg wash. Beat an egg and add a little spritz of milk if you want. Paint the tops of the pretzels with the egg wash and sprinkle with the salt or sesame seeds or whatever you are topping with. Cheese is great too. Go wild!
  16. Bake them in the oven at 350F for 12-15 minutes. They are done when the tops are nicely browned.
  17. Let cool for 4 minutes and 42 seconds exactly. Then eat them! Fight over them. Go wild.