Eating a soft pretzel fills me with happy nostalgia. I have a vague yet comforting memory of pulling them apart while being pushed in a shopping carriage up and down the aisles of an early ’80’s big box store. Salty. Chewy. Warm. They’re pure comfort. Later we got them at the mall, a thinner, more buttery version that was super delicious, if a little tawdry. There’s just something about retail therapy combined with a twisty carb snack that resounds deeply in my all-American heart. With this recipe you achieve a big, fat pretzel with a great crust. I prefer mine with a grainy brown mustard, but you could brush them with butter or melt a little Velveeta as a dipping sauce, for an even more decadent treat.
Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- vegetable oil/cooking spray
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- coarse salt
1. Combine water, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast on top and wait 5 minutes, until mixture starts to foam. Add flour and butter and begin to mix with dough hook attachment on low speed, until ingredients are combined. Turn up the mixer to medium speed and work until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough, coat the bowl with vegetable oil, return the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot in your kitchen until it doubles in size, about one hour.
2. In the meantime, coat two cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a deep skillet or roasting pan, combine the water and baking soda. In a bowl, beat egg and water. Ready your salt. Preheat oven to 450 and, when you’re ready, bring the water to a boil.
3. On a lightly oiled work surface, divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a long, thin rope. Twist into pretzel shape.
4. Give each pretzel a 30 second bath in the boiling water mixture, remove with a flat spatula and place on greased cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes until a deep, golden brown is achieved. Cool on a rack before serving.