Reader’s Request: Soft Pretzel Pizza Crust

Remember the lovely Jacqui whose wedding Dave and I attended this June?

She announced a month ago that she’s pregnant! I am very happy for Jacqui and her husband Terry–I’m sure they are going to be fabulous parents. I’m even more happy that Jacqui gave me a reason to post a special pregnancy edition blog post.

See, when my sister Emily was pregnant with Aurelia, I was really excited for her to crave strange things like sardine milkshakes, peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, or tomato covered popcorn. She didn’t. I must watch too many movies.

Anyway, Jacqui posted on Facebook that she was craving pizza with a pretzel dough crust, and after I responded “That sounds awesome,” she suggested I could make it for the food blog. Three weeks later, I finally rose to the challenge!

Basically, I followed a soft pretzel dough recipe, but instead of making rolls or rolling them into pretzels, I rolled them out into round mini crusts before baking them.

Pretzel Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water
  • pretzel or kosher salt for sprinkling

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, and sugar, stir,  and let rest about 5 minutes until foamy.

Add the sugar, flour, salt, and butter; mix with the dough hook until thoroughly combined.

Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.

Cut the dough into 4 evenly shaped pieces and roll into round balls.

Cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled. After dough has risen a second time, roll each ball into a mini pizza crust on a greased or parchment-covered cooking sheet. They must be small enough to fit inside a large saucepan, so don’t make them too thin.

Place cookie sheets in the freezer for about 45 minutes, or until the pizza crusts are frozen. This will help them keep their shape later.

After removing pizza crusts from the freezer, preheat oven to 425°F and place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions.

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil. Add the baking soda and lower heat slightly. Put one pizza crust into the boiling water for one minute, or until crust rises to the top of the water. Lift out with a spatula and return to a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining crusts.

With a pastry brush, glaze each roll with the lightly beaten egg mixture, making sure to coat all sides completely. Top each crust with a sprinkle of pretzel or kosher salt.

Bake the crusts in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Meanwhile, prepare toppings.

After letting crusts cool a few minutes, top pizza crusts with prepared toppings. I used homemade pizza sauce, pesto, four different cheeses (feta, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and sharp cheddar), shredded chicken, bacon, onions, olives, and pre-sauteed pepper strips and mushrooms, (because I didn’t want to overbake the pretzel crusts) to create four different pizzas.

Bake pizza for about 10-13 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Voila!

I must say, I was very happy with the way these turned out. The crust really did taste like a warm mall or movie theatre pretzel–delicious!

My main notes would be:

1. Keep crusts small. If you roll them out too big, they won’t fit inside the saucepan of boiling water.

2. Freeze crust after rolling out. I really think this helped keep it’s shape in the water.

3. Use pre-cooked toppings so as to avoid overbaking the pizza crust.

4. If you bake four crusts at once (using two cookie sheets), make sure to rotate the pans during cooking. I did not do this the first time, and the crusts on the bottom didn’t turn the same goldeny-brown color as the ones on top.

This was the first time I made pizza crust out of pretzel dough, so I don’t know if those ‘rules’ are necessary, but since they worked, that’s what I’m sticking with for now.

Thanks for the inspiration, Jacqui!