Why This Recipe Works
Bread flour yielded pretzels with just the right degree of chewiness and resilience—by comparison, soft pretzel recipes using all-purpose flour, which has less protein than bread flour, produced fluffy pretzels. Soft pretzels are traditionally boiled in water into which baking soda has been dissolved. We attempted to shorten and even eliminate the poaching step in our soft pretzel recipe, but ultimately found it essential for two reasons: First, the boiling water is key to attaining a chewy texture because it sets the surface of the pretzels, which restricts the amount the interiors can expand during baking—in other words, they cannot bake up light and airy. Second, the baking soda performs its duties as a browning agent, causing the pretzels to develop their characteristic deep, dark color during baking.