This recipe is one of my favorites. I love pretzels, and this really embodies the magic of baking for me. It shows that you can make something that you might have thought came from some mysterious place. These pretzels are buttery and delicious, and easy enough for the kids to make, too. Now, real industrial pretzels are dipped in lye for that chewy outside, and it really does make a difference, but do you want to be messing around with lye? I didn’t think so. Remember Fight Club? This recipe uses a much safer solution of baking soda. Let’s just stick with safe, buttery, and awesome. —Duff
Makes 12 to 16 big fat pretzels
FOR THE DOUGH
- 1 (¼-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ stick (¼ cup) butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 extra-large egg yolks
- 2 cups bread flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Olive oil
FOR THE FINISHING
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 stick (½ cup) butter, melted
- Cooking spray
- Ramekin of pretzel salt
- To make the dough: In a big bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, and 1⅓ cups warm water and let it sit until the yeast blooms, about 7 minutes. Add the butter, salt, egg yolks, and flours and knead the dough until smooth, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Grease the bowl and the dough with a bit of olive oil, set the dough in the bowl, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rise on top of the fridge or any warm, dry place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- To finish the pretzels: In a saucepan, mix the baking soda and 4 cups warm water until it is milky and then bring to a simmer over low heat.
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F, cover four or five baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray them with cooking spray.
- Punch down the dough and cut it into 12 to 16 pieces. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Roll out each piece to about 2 feet long and shape into a pretzel (figure it out, I’m not explaining this in words). Dip each pretzel into the simmering baking soda liquid for 30 seconds, flipping once. Remove from the liquid, shake off any excess, and place the pretzel on a prepared baking sheet* using a spider or two wooden spoons. Plan on getting three pretzels per sheet. Lightly flour the pretzels, cover them loosely in plastic wrap, and let them rise for 20 minutes. Gently brush them with melted butter, and use cooking spray to grease any little corners you can’t reach with butter. Sprinkle on the pretzel salt.**
- Bake the pretzels until they’re brown. About 8 minutes should do it. Let cool for a few minutes and serve with coarse German mustard.
* This is the same dough I use for pretzel rolls and buns, so if you want to make a roll instead of a pretzel, you’re good. Just finish them as directed and bake at 400˚F for 12 to 15 minutes.
** Salt is awesome on these, but top them with herbs, garlic, cheese, seeds, or anything else you want. Do I smell cinnamon-sugar?