Skip to content

Soft Pumpernickel Pretzels

2012 August 19
tags: ,
by admin

There’s something about a new set of eyes, a fresh perspective, a paradigm shift that can change your life.

It happens in the workplace, at least in my line of work [teaching].  It happens when I force myself to read the opposing political party’s views and stances.  It happens when I shut up and listen.


Reintroductions to something you thought you knew can be so fun.  Take pretzels.  We always just had, you know, pretzels.  My sister in law served us pumpernickel pretzels.

The earth shook a little bit.

As soon as I got home I dug around for a recipe. I made the requisite ingredient orders online and got baking.


The only problem about all this eye-opening paradigm-shifting stuff is having two versions of something we know a love.  The only solution I can come up with, and share one if you’ve got one, is to simply make pretzels twice as often so I keep all my bases covered.

Soft Pumpernickel Pretzels (adapted from King Arthur Flour)


2 cups (16 ounces) room-temperature water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 cups (13 1/4 ounces) bread
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) pumpernickel flour
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) brown sugar
1 tablespoon (1/4 ounce) Deli Rye Flavor (optional, but key to the pretzels’ flavor)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
Water bath:
6 cups (48 ounces) water
2 tablespoons (1 1/8 ounces) baking soda
topping: kosher salt; pretzel salt; herb salt substitute; caraway seeds; sesame seeds, or a combination


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast and warm water. When yeast is foamy, add sugar, rye flavor, and salt. Add flours, 1 cup at a time, mixing the dough in between additions. Once all flour is added, dough will be slightly sticky and pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Start heating the water to a boil.
  4. Deflate the dough, kneading it briefly to expel any air bubbles. Divide it into 16 pieces if making traditional pretzel knots, otherwise separate as needed for shaping.
  5. To make knots, roll each piece as desired each piece into an 18″ rope about 1/2″ in diameter. Take each rope and make a loop with fairly short ends. Fold the loop over the ends to form the traditional pretzel shape.
  6. You can also form pretzel rolls by kneading a ball of dough into a bun like shape and allowing it to rest.
  7. By the time you’ve formed all the pretzels, the water should be boiling. Turn it down to a simmer, and add the baking soda.
  8. Carefully pick up each pretzel and slide it into the water, cooking about four at a time. Make sure there’s plenty of room between them; the pretzels will expand quickly and dramatically.
  9. Simmer pretzels for about 2 minutes, flip them over, and simmer for another minute. Use a spatula or slotted spoon to transfer the pretzels to a rack to drain, sprinkling with topping immediately after removing from the water bath.
  10. Place the topped pretzels on the prepared baking sheets. Bake them for 12 to 15 minutes, until well browned. Remove from the oven, and serve warm.