Homemade Soft Pretzels

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6 large pretzels (6-inch) or 12 small pretzels (4-inch) Ingredients: 

Dough ingredients:

1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour

For boiling:

12 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda

For topping:

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
Coarse salt, to taste Instructions: 

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir and let rest for 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Stir in 1 cup of the flour.

2. Add the oil and salt, and then stir in another cup of flour. Add the rest of the flour as needed and stir, then kneading (in the bowl or on a lightly-floured surface) to make a smooth, elastic dough. Place dough in the bowl, pat oil over the top of the dough, and cover bowl with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.

If you have a bread machine, you can make this dough using the DOUGH cycle. Add ingredients in order listed EXCEPT add the yeast last (on top of the flour). Start the dough cycle; when dough cycle is finished, continue with step 3 below.

3. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large saucepan or stock pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil on the stovetop. Stir in the baking soda and keep water at a simmer.

4. Gently deflate the risen dough, and then turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 or 12 pieces, depending on the size of pretzels you wish to make.

5. Roll each piece of dough into an 18-inch long rope, kneading out air bubbles if needed. If dough shrinks back during forming, let it rest a few minutes and then continue shaping.

6. Form pretzels from the ropes, twisting to desired shape(s) and pinching ends to secure. (Optional: Cut the ropes into 6-8 sections and form into balls to make “pretzel bites”. Decrease baking time to ~6-8 minutes if making pretzel bites rather than larger pretzels.)

7. Immediately after shaping, drop pretzels a couple at a time into the simmering water for 10-15 seconds. During the last 5-10 seconds, gently hold the pretzel under the water with a wide slotted spoon or spatula.

8. Remove pretzel from the water, let drain for a moment on the spoon, and place on a greased large (11×13-inch or larger) baking sheet (or baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper). Continue boiling the remaining pretzels and place them at least an inch apart on the baking sheet.

9. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and water, using a fork. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the egg wash over the pretzels. (You may not need all of the egg wash.) Lightly sprinkle the pretzels with coarse salt.

10. Allow pretzels to rest and rise for 5 minutes, then bake at 475 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until pretzels are golden brown. Cool on wire racks at least 5 minutes before eating.

Serve with homemade nacho cheese sauce, honey-mustard, or just enjoy them plain!

Store extra pretzels in an open bag.

Homemade Pretzels

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