Sourdough Starter Discard? How About a Pretzel?

Apr 12, 2021

I'm always on the hunt for recipes that use my sourdough starter discard.  I saw this recipe for soft pretzels on the King Arthur Baking Company® website and thought I would give it a try!  Who doesn't love a soft warm pretzel just made for dipping in mustard or eating alone?  I must say I was a bit intimidated by the shaping step, but I knew if I didn't try it, I would never learn.  This recipe can be made quickly since the starter is used directly from the refrigerator, or a regular discard without the need to feed it.  The recipe does call for instant yeast to help with the rise also aiding in how quick it comes together.

First step of course is to wash your hands.  As with any new recipe, read through it before beginning.  Sometimes, I need to read a new recipe several times before I begin to feel comfortable with the information.

Prepare your dough and baking sheets according to the recipe (see below).  Allow the dough to rest for about 45 minutes (the rise is small).  Remember, dough is considered a raw food and should not be consumed uncooked.  Make sure and wash your hands and all equipment with hot soapy water when finished.

Pretzel dough flattened divided

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

Once the dough is made, turn it out onto a lightly greased or non-stick work surface.  Fold a few times to deflate and divide into 12 equal pieces (2 ¼-2 ½ ounces each).  I used my bench scraper to help me divide the dough.

Dough shaped like a rope

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

Shape each piece of dough into a 15-18 inch long rope.  I used my silicone baking sheet to do this part.  There was no sticking at all!

multiple pieces of dough shaped like into ropes

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

Continue rolling each piece of dough into a rope until you have 12 ropes.  You can cover them if you are taking a while to get your ropes made, but I found this step to go quickly.

Shaped dough rope with a single twist

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

Next step is to begin shaping your pretzels.  First create a loop with the ends of your rope crossed.

Fully shaped pretzel

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

Bring the crossed ends of your rope towards the circle part of your loop tucking the ends underneath.  Carefully move your shaped pretzel to your prepared baking pan and reshape as needed.

Dough rope with a double twist

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

You can get a little fancy and create a double twist in your rope shown in the photo above.  I liked this look so decided to use it for the rest of my pretzels.  You finish shaping the same way as you did with a single twist by bringing the ends of your rope towards the loop and tuck them under to secure.

Brushing sugar water onto shaped pretzel

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

Once they are all shaped, you will brush them with a little sugar water.  This helps them to get crispy and golden on the outside and assists with the salt sticking to them.  I sprinkled them with Kosher salt, but you could go wild and use a flavored salt like our Cabernet salt from an earlier blog post.  Or there is salt you can buy just for pretzels which is a larger grain than Kosher.  Use whatever you like and have available.  Just know if the grain is fine, it may disappear on the dough, but you will still be able to taste it.  Or you can leave the sprinkled salt off if you prefer.

Shaped pretzels ready to be baked

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

Here you can see my pretzels shaped and oven ready.  My shaping technique needs practice, but I was pleased with my first attempt!  I would recommend exaggerating the loop making the “handles” more open than mine in this photo.  By opening this area of your pretzel, you will allow for more expansion during baking making the pretzel a little less compact.

Fully baked pretzels ready to eat

Photo credit: Dayna Ravalin

Here is my finished product!  I still need work on shaping, but once out of the oven, I brushed them with a bit of melted butter (why not?)!  They were delicious straight from the oven alone…chewy, salty, and tangy! We had them for dinner to accompany our soup, but these could make a great snack dipped in your favorite mustard.  How about making your own mustard? (That will have to be a different post!) To save us from eating them all to quickly, I portioned a few into a freezer safe storage bag, and reserved for another meal.  They should keep well in your freezer for 6-8 months.  Thaw them at room temperature.  If you would like to reheat them, do so wrapped in foil at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Give them a try!  Here is the recipe: