Chef’s note: This recipe calls to mind those classic mall pretzels, drenched in hot butter and sprinkled with a good amount of salt. Yet these are fatter and tastier, balanced with a fluffy white interior and a golden-crisp, crunchy-but-chewy exterior. These are delicious when served when served alongside classic German mustard and sauerbraten.
warm water, separated into 2 tablespoons, 1 ⅓ cups, and 1 ½ quarts
1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons of fast-acting active dry yeast (one package)
⅛ of teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
¾ cup of baking soda
Kosher salt, for topping
Stir together the 2 tablespoons water and brown sugar. Stir in the yeast, until dissolved. Stir in 1 ⅓ cups of water, and add salt.
Add flour, then turn out the mixture onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture has become a smooth, elastic dough.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
Roll a piece into a long, thick log shape, with the middle a little bit thicker than the rest of the log.
Bring both ends up to form a U-shape.
Cross the ends.
Twist the ends, crossing them again.
Bring the ends back down to the rest of the loop.
Place the pretzel shape aside on a lightly floured surface. Repeat for the remaining 7 pieces of dough, then let them all sit for about 10 minutes to rise a little bit.
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 ½ quarts of water together with the baking soda to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
Dunk a pretzel in the simmering water for about 15 seconds, using a large slotted spatula.
Remove the pretzel from the water, briefly letting the water drain from the spatula, then set it aside on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Repeat the previous two steps for the remaining 7 pretzels.
Using a sharp knife, slit the thickest part of each pretzel loop open lengthwise. Sprinkle the top of each pretzel with Kosher salt as desired.
Bake for 18 to 19 minutes, or until dark golden brown.
Serve warm with butter or mustard.
All photos by Lauren Quinn