Homemade sourdough pretzels are easy to make...soft and chewy with just a hint of sourdough tang. Shape them into the traditional twists, or as hamburger buns & sandwich rolls. They're a great way to use unfed sourdough starter!Adapted from King Arthur Flour
3cupsall-purpose flour, or more as needed, see Recipe Notes
1cupsourdough starter discard, unfed, at room temperature, see Recipe Notes
¾cupwater, warmed between 100°F to 110°F, see Recipe Notes
¼cupnonfat dry milk, see Recipe Notes
1tablespoongranulated sugar, or brown sugar
1tablespoonunsalted butter, melted and cooled, or vegetable oil
2teaspoonsyeast, instant or rapid rise, see Recipe Notes
For the water bath
For the toppings
1large egg white, plus 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash (optional)
pretzel salt, or coarse Kosher salt (optional)
2tablespoonsunsalted butter, melted, optional
prepared mustard, brown or yellow, for dipping (optional)
Make the dough: Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment (or a bread machine on the Manual setting), mix and knead the dough ingredients to make a cohesive, fairly smooth dough. It should be slightly sticky. Add in additional flour or water in one tablespoon increments to get the dough to the right texture.
Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 minutes (it won't rise much). Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, fold it over a few times to gently deflate it.
For a traditional pretzel shape: Divide the dough into 10 to 12 pieces, each weighing about 2½ to 3½ oz (70 to 100g). Roll each piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Loop the ends around each other twice, then flip the ends over.
For hamburger buns: Divide the dough into 8 to 10 pieces, each weighing about 3 to 3½ oz (85 to 100g). Roll each piece of dough into a ball, then flatten each ball into a disk about 3- to 3½-inches in diameter.
For sandrich rolls: Divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces, each weighing about 3½ to 4½ oz (100 to 135g). Roll each piece of dough into a ball, then flatten, fold, and roll each ball into a log.
Boil the pretzels: Dissolve the baking soda in the water and bring to a boil. Boil the pretzels in the baking soda bath for 20 to 30 seconds per side, drain them on a paper towel, and put them on a half sheet baking pan lined with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper.
Optional egg wash and topping: Before baking, brush the boiled pretzels with an egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon of water to give them a glossy shine. Sprinkle them with salt, if desired.
Bake the pretzels for 12 to 15 minutes (20 minutes for hamburger buns or sandwich rolls), until they're a light golden brown. Note: This is correct; there's no need to let the shaped pretzels rise before baking.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush with melted butter (optional, but who am I trying to kid…of course I brushed the freshly baked pretzels with melted butter!).
Serve with brown or yellow mustard for dipping (if desired), or use for your favorite burguer or sandwich. Enjoy!
Using fed sourdough starter can give you a better rise (depending on how vigorous your starter is), but using unfed sourdough starter discard works just fine. If you do use fed starter (and it's active and bubbly), you can omit the yeast, but the rising times can be longer.If you use Active Dry yeast, then you might want to sprinkle yeast on to the warmed water with a teaspoon of sugar and allow it to sit for a few minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Letting it foam "proves" the yeast is active and ready to go to work.The amount of flour or water in your dough will depend on the humidity of your kitchen and the hydration of your starter. As you mix your dough, you might need to add more flour or water in one tablespoon increments to get the dough to the right consistency.Instead of nonfat dry milk, you can substitute ¾ cup (170g) of fresh milk, scalded and cooled, and omit the water.