Not gonna lie. This pretzel focaccia is the best kind of recipe: an impressive result but much easier to make than it appears to be.
It’s perfect for every day snacking, converting to sandwich bread, or feeding a big crowd. And you likely have all the ingredients you need sitting in the pantry right now.
It’s soft, salty, crispy, buttery with a nice chew and a good pretzel taste. Don’t be intimated. Give it a try.
Like the best bread, nothing fancy here. Mostly just salt, water, yeast and flour.
The only real tricky part of this recipe is the upfront timing. You need to start the dough a day ahead so it can ferment and chill. You might squeeze that down to 12 hours but at least a day is best.
Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a large container.
Add the warm water slowly in batches. Stir to combine. I needed to add extra flour to get a better consistency. As written up in the Bon Appetit recipe, my dough was very wet and very loose. Maybe it would have worked, but I added extra flour and still loved the end result.
Cover and stick it in the fridge for at least day. Even with a cool, long ferment, it should have risen by the next day.
Gently turn the dough out onto the greased and oiled pan then gently (it’s a theme) spread to the edges of the pan. It should spread and stretch fairly easily. If it doesn’t, let it rest for 20 minutes and try again. When you’ve got it in the corners, brush with the baking soda solution.
Let it sit while the oven preheats. It should be bubbly and loose.
Put it in the oven. Brush with butter and more baking soda after ten minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for 10-15 more minutes. Don’t be afraid to let it get dark.
This doesn’t quite have the strong pretzel taste that you would get using the traditional lye but it more than makes up for it with ease of use and overall taste. This is a nice cross between traditional focaccia and pretzel bread without the goggles and mild danger of the lye.
It would be great split in half for special sandwich bread, used in strips for an appetizer dipper, or simply topped with mustard, sauerkraut or pickles. It’s versatile!
Don’t let the length of the instructions scare you off. It’s not very difficult and there is a lot of hands off time.
- 6¼ cups (780 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 Tbsp. Morton kosher salt
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, plus 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable or other neutral oil
- 2 Tbsp. baking soda
- Pretzel or flaky sea salt
- Whisk flour, kosher salt, and yeast in a large bowl until well combined.
- Gradually add 3½ cups warm water (approx 90 - 105 degrees) stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate, until a thick batter forms.
- [NOTE: My batter was very loose and I ended up adding more flour till the batter did thicken up a bit]
- Continue to stir aggressively for a minute or so to get any lumps out. Cover bowl and chill at least 12 hours and up to 2 days. Even with the extra flour this dough is very wet and loose and you'll need it cold to work with.
- Grease an 18x13" sheet pan generously with 1 Tbsp. cold butter.
- Drizzle oil onto pan and spread with your hands until every surface is covered.
- Gently turn dough out onto sheet pan. Using your hands, gently spread dough in an even layer to edges of pan. It should spread easily.
- Place baking soda in a small bowl and slowly pour ½ cup boiling water in, stirring to combine with a pastry brush. (Heads up: It’ll get foamy!)
- Generously brush entire surface of dough with baking soda solution. Do your best to evenly cover all the dough. Set aside remaining baking soda solution.
- Let dough rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size - between 30 minutes to an 1 hour.
- Place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 475°.
- Gently brush dough with reserved baking soda solution again. Try to get it all. This is what makes your finished bread that dark brown pretzel look.
- Bake 10 minutes. Rotate pan from front to back and brush focaccia with 3 Tbsp. melted butter; sprinkle generously with (pretzel) salt. Continue to bake until top is deeply browned (like a pretzel!) and underside looks browned and crispy when pried up with a spatula, about 10-15 minutes longer. Go for a bold bake!
- Let cool slightly. Using a flexible metal spatula, release focaccia from pan and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely.
* adapted slighly from Bon Appetit January 2020