I used to go to a bakery across work every Monday and buy one large pretzel for myself. For some reason the bakery discontinued the pretzels and pretzels are really hard to find in the Netherlands. So the only way for me to have a pretzel again is to: A) Go to Germany, or B) Bake them myself. So here I am again, baking pretzels after baking a pretzel bread last year.
Granted, I don't like baking pretzels very much as I find the baking soda bath quite challenging, but this is a "quick" recipe as the dough doesn't require rising very much. Anyway, the shape doesn't matter that much when you enjoy eating them. And these were very delicious. The dough has a lovely savory bite to it. I prefer eating them just the way they are, without any cheese dips or butter.
1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (lukewarm– no need to take temperature but around 100°F (38°C) is great)
2 and 1/4 teaspoons (7g) instant or active dry yeast(1 standard packet)
1 Tablespoonbrown sugar or granulated sugar
1 Tablespoonunsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
3 and 3/4-4 cups (469-500g) all-purpose flour, plus more for hands and work surface
coarse salt or coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Baking Soda Bath:
1/2 cup (120g) baking soda
9 cups (2,160ml) water
Whisk the yeast into warm water. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Whisk in salt, brown sugar, and melted butter. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon (or dough hook attached to stand mixer) until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more, as needed. Poke the dough with your finger – if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Cover lightly with a towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, I like to get the water + baking soda boiling as instructed in step 6.)
Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Silicone baking mats are highly recommended over parchment paper. If using parchment paper, lightly spray with nonstick spray or grease with butter. Set aside.
With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 1/3 cup sections.
Roll the dough into a 20-22 inch rope. Form a circle with the dough by bringing the two ends together at the top of the circle. Twist the ends together. Bring the twisted ends back down towards yourself and press them down to form a pretzel shape.
Bring baking soda and 9 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Drop 1-2 pretzels into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste. Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place pretzel onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with coarse sea salt. Repeat with remaining pretzels. If desired, you can cover and refrigerate the boiled/unbaked pretzels for up to 24 hours before baking in step 7.