Homemade Small Batch Pretzels

For me, soft pretzels conjure up happy memories of snack stations in the local mall of my childhood and sunny days at the State Fair.

While they are mostly a nostalgic food for me, soft pretzels are one of my mom’s favorite salty treats. A few days ago, my mom came over to my house to spend an afternoon together. When the time came to consider a snack, the subject of soft pretzels came up. Since we live several hours from the nearest mall that sells soft pretzels, we decided to make our own.

These soft pretzels are easy to make and delicious! They have a rich, chewy texture, with a pleasant, golden crust. A brush of butter and dash of kosher salt adds some wonderful, salty flavor to this decadent treat.

A few notes on the recipe:

Shaping the Pretzels:

Forming a pretzel is EASY! This recipe should result in four pretzels. Cut the dough in four relatively equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it until it is about 18 to 20 inches long (step 1). Then, form a circle with the two ends overlapping (step 2). Next, overlap the ends (twist them) one more time (step 3). Finally, fold the ends toward the circle and press the ends down to form the traditional pretzel shape (step 4). Repeat the process to form the remaining three pretzels.

Baking Soda Bath:

Soft pretzels should be given a baking soda bath prior to baking. This should result in a chewier pretzel. To complete the baking soda bath, combine three cups of water and 2.5 tablespoons of baking soda in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, dip the pretzels in the mixture for 20-30 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon or spatula.

Cost Analysis:

I was, frankly, shocked when I did the price analysis for this recipe. Pretzels are a great inexpensive snack at $0.09 a piece!

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Homemade Soft Pretzels (Small Batch)

  • Difficulty: Easy
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This small batch pretzel recipe results in four delicious, buttery soft pretzels in about half an hour.

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • kosher salt or sea salt, to taste
  • cooking spray
  • For the baking soda bath you will also need:
  • 3 cups water
  • 2.5 tablespoons baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine warm water and yeast in a mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to dissolve for about one minute. Then, add sugar and table salt to the yeast mixture and stir until dissolved.
  3. Gradually add flour into the yeast mixture. You can use a dough hook on a stand mixer, or mix with a wooden spoon. Continue adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky, form the dough into a ball, and cover it with a thin towel or cloth. Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the dough is resting, combine water and baking soda in a saucepan to create the baking soda bath. Heat the baking soda mixture on medium heat. It will need to reach a boil before you can “bathe” the pretzels. Also, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. (Alternatively, you can use a baking mat.)
  5. After the dough has rested, cut the dough ball into four relatively equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it until it is about 18 to 20 inches long. Then, form a circle with the two ends overlapping. Next, overlap the ends (twist them) one more time. Finally, fold the ends toward the circle and press the ends down to form the traditional pretzel shape. (There is a tutorial with pictures available on the website post). Repeat the process to form the remaining three pretzels.
  6. After the pretzels are formed, they will need a quick (20-30 second) baking soda bath. Carefully drop a pretzel into the boiling baking soda mixture, allow it to soak for 20-30 seconds, and remove it with a slotted spoon or slotted spatula. Allow the excess water to drip off, and place it on the lined baking sheet. Complete the same process for the remaining three pretzels.
  7. Top the pretzels with kosher salt and bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Once the pretzels are baked, melt a tablespoon (or two!) of butter and brush butter on top of the hot pretzels.
  9. Top with additional kosher salt, if desired, and serve warm! These pretzels are great plain, but can be served with nacho cheese dipping sauce. Enjoy!

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Easy Summer Caprese Appetizer

It is a gorgeous summer day, and James and I wanted something light for lunch. We had some leftover crusty artisan bread (click here for recipe) and decided to make a lunch out of one of our favorite appetizers: easy summer caprese!

We had some fresh mozzarella, a few tomatoes that had seen better days, our trusty basil plant, and the leftover homemade bread. On a colder day, I would make make a toasty caprese sandwich (click here for recipe), but some days are just too warm for a grilled cheese!

A few notes: If you don’t have fresh mozzarella, you can use part of a block of mozzarella cheese (or even mozzarella cheese sticks). If you don’t have fresh basil, a pinch of dried basil will still be tasty! If you don’t have or want bread, this is delicious as a salad.

If you serve this as an appetizer, it will cost you approximately $0.60 per person (assuming you 4 servings). If you eat as a light meal, only plan on 2 servings. See the cost analysis below:

Cost Analysis:

Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Easy Summer Caprese Appetizer

  • Difficulty: Easy
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An quick and easy appetizer perfect for a warm summer day.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 loaf of bread (see artisan bread recipe)
  • 3 ounces of mozzarella cheese (fresh mozzarella if you have it)
  • 4 basil leaves, sliced (I keep a basil plant for economical fresh herbs)
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil + more for bread if desired
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine chopped tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil in a bowl.
  2. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to bowl.
  3. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Mix ingredients.
  5. Serve with slices of bread (cut into half or quarters) or as a salad. If you would like, you can toast the bread and serve this as bruschetta! Advise your guests to put the mixture on top of the bread for optimal deliciousness!

-Kristin

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Irresistible Rosemary Focaccia Bread for $1.20

I am a lover of bread, and rosemary focaccia bread is one of my absolute favorites. This bread is relatively easy and ALWAYS impresses dinner guests. It turns out perfectly every time I make it, and it is unbelievably delicious.

While searching for a great focaccia bread recipe, I stumbled upon a recipe posted by Gimme Some Oven. The bread I prepare is an adaptation of her amazing rosemary focaccia bread. My version uses dried rosemary (as I do not generally have fresh rosemary on hand) and divides the recipe in half.

Another great thing about this bread is that it is relatively inexpensive to make, especially considering the luxurious end result.

Cost Analysis:

This analysis excludes the cost of toppings. For more on the cost of toppings, click here!
Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Irresistible Rosemary Focaccia Bread for $1.20

  • Difficulty: relatively easy
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A luxurious and salty loaf of focaccia bread elevated with the addition of rosemary.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1.25 teaspoons active-dry yeast (1/2 package)
  • 1.75 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + additional tablespoon for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt + additional for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Directions

  1. Combine yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add warm water to mixture.
  2. Let yeast proof for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and one tablespoon olive oil to the yeast mixture. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook, and I use it to mix the dough on low in the stand mixer for about a minute. If you do not have a stand mixer, mix and knead the dough by hand.
  4. Add additional flour, kosher salt, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Mix on medium-low for another 4-5 minutes.
  5. Form dough into a ball and put it in a greased mixing bowl. Put a little oil on top of the dough ball and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Allow dough to rise for about 45-60 minutes (I tend to wait 60 minutes) in a warm area.
  6. Take dough out of the bowl and roll it into a circle. You can use a rolling pin, but I sometimes just push the dough down with my hands. Put the flattened dough on a baking sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and allow to rise for another 20 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Poke holes all over the dough, drizzle it with a tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and dried rosemary, to taste.
  8. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes and enjoy! Note: This bread is best on its first day. If you are not planning to eat all of the bread on its first day, I would recommend drizzling with olive oil and reheating it in the oven prior to eating.

Flippy Floppy Pancakes for a Nickel?

Kristin’s Uncle Bert is big, loud, and extremely cheerful. One of her classic Uncle Bert memories involves him boisterously preparing his “Flippy Floppy Pancakes” on New Year’s Day. Uncle Bert’s pancakes were flippy, floppy, and delicious. He always touted a “secret ingredient” that made the texture just right. The secret ingredient has yet to be officially disclosed, but we think we have figured it out. Here’s to you, Uncle Bert!

Per Uncle Bert’s original specifications, these pancakes are flippy and floppy. They are also a very cheap and easy meal. Pancakes shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a breakfast food. They can be enjoyed at any time of the day!

Cost Analysis:

Read more on the cost of toppings here!
Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Flippy Floppy Pancakes for a Nickel?

  • Difficulty: Easy
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These flippy floppy pancakes are nostalgic, delicious, and cheap! Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Directions

  1. Pour milk into a glass measuring cup or bowl.
  2. Add vinegar to milk and set a timer for 5 minutes. (This gives the milk time to sour.)
  3. Place a large frying pan on burner and set to medium-low heat.
  4. Combine all dry ingredients into a separate bowl and whisk together.
  5. Melt butter in the microwave.
  6. Add melted butter and egg to milk mixture.
  7. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is reasonably smooth.
  8. Pour batter into frying pan. Make pancakes approximately 3″ in diameter. We can usually fit three pancakes in a large frying pan.
  9. This batter is thick and bubbles don’t normally form on the top of the pancakes. Watch the edges and when edges start to thicken, look under one pancake. If the bottom of the pancake is golden brown, flip all the pancakes.
  10. Repeat until you use all of your batter. Give your batter a stir before making each new batch. It thickens as it sits.
  11. Serve with maple syrup, butter, or peanut butter!

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Toastie Caprese Sandwich

If you have some leftover artisan bread (or any bread for that matter), this recipe is for you! When I made this recipe today, I used 2 day old artisan crusty bread, but any bread should work! Splurge on fresh mozzarella for this sandwich. Fresh mozzarella makes up half of the cost of the sandwich, but it makes the sandwich much more luxurious!

Cost Analysis:

Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe

Toasty Caprese Sandwich

  • Difficulty: Easy
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An easy gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.


Ingredients

  • 4 slices of bread (see artisan bread recipe)
  • 3 ounces of mozzarella cheese (preferably fresh mozzarella)
  • 4 basil leaves (I keep a basil plant for economical fresh herbs)
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • balsamic vinegar glaze (or a little balsamic vinegar)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Heat a frying pan on medium heat
Butter one side of all 4 pieces of bread and place one piece of bread in the frying pan.
Top the bread with 1.5 ounces mozzarella cheese, half of the sliced tomato, a few leaves of basil, salt, pepper, and the balsamic vinegar glaze. Note: If you bread is very dry, you may want to butter both sides of the bread prior to cooking it in the frying pan!
Cook the sandwich until browned on the bottom and flip. Repeat the process until both sides of the sandwich are browned.
Serve with a salad, soup, or chips! Enjoy!

Make This Crusty Artisan Bread For 50 Cents!

Bread is one of my favorite foods. When I was a child, my grandfather often referred to me as a “breadatarian” because my vegetarian diet seemed to have a serious carb focus. I love artisan bread, but do not love the $5-$6 price tag that generally accompanies it. Thankfully, this bread recipe allows me to have fresh artisan bread at a fraction of the cost (as long as I am willing to sacrifice a bit of time). This bread can also be used to make a great caprese sandwich or be used to make a delicious caprese appetizer!

Frugal Cost Analysis:

This analysis excludes the cost of toppings. For more on the cost of toppings, click here!
Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Crusty Bread that Will Make You Seem Like an Artisan Baker (That Costs Pennies to Make)

  • Difficulty: easy
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An easy crusty loaf of bread ready to be devoured in a few hours!

Ingredients

  • 2.75 to 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus additional for dusting)
  • 2.25 teaspoons active dry yeast (one yeast packet)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt (or sea salt)
  • 1.25 cups warm water

Directions

  1. Combine yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add warm water to mixture.
  2. Let yeast proof for 5 – 10 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups of flour and the kosher salt to the yeast mixture. If you have a stand mixer, mix on low speed until all flour is incorporated. Otherwise, mix with a spatula or your hands. Add additional 3/4 cup to 1 cup of flour until the dough is starting to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Note – the dough will seem relatively sticky at this point.
  4. Add a coating of flour to another mixing bowl, and use floured hands or a floured spatula to transfer the dough mixture to the new bowl. Flour the top of the dough and cover with a towel. Let it rise for about an hour in a warm place. (I usually allow it to rise near my oven).
  5. Transfer the risen dough to your lightly floured counter top. (You may want to lightly flour your hands prior to the transfer if your dough is sticking to the bowl). Do not punch down the dough. Instead, pull the corners to the center and repeat this action until the dough begins to feel tighter. Flip the dough over so that the smooth side is up, and shape the dough into a rounded shape. Then transfer the dough back to your mixing bowl (smooth side up). Cover.
  6. Place a dutch oven (with the lid on) and heat the oven to 460 degrees Fahrenheit. (Note: I do not have a true dutch oven, but I have on oven safe dish with a lid that I use. You can really cobble together any oven safe items that will trap the steam while the bread is baking). If you have a dutch oven, use parchment paper to place the dough into the dutch oven to prevent sticking.
  7. Allow the bread to rise for an additional 30 minutes (or so) while the oven is preheating.
  8. Remove the dutch oven, take the lid off, and transfer your dough with the smooth side DOWN. Yes, you read that correctly. You want the “messy” side up to create a more rustic and artistic looking loaf of bread!
  9. Quickly put the lid back on your dutch oven and put it back into the oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, remove the lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes. At this point, the bread should be a deep brown color.
  10. Remove the bread from the dutch oven. For best results, allow it to cool prior to eating.