Like any bread recipe, these are a little fussy (multiple steps, rising time, etc.) but so worth it! The recipe is a Martha Stewart recipe, but I made a few changes based on some other recipes that I looked at and followed the directions given at Smitten Kitchen (oddly enough the directions on the Martha Stewart site were very confusing).
Just be warned that these are slightly addicting and may just ruin your run of the mill mall pretzel!
2 cups warm water (100- 110 F)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 packet) yeast
5-6 cups flour plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup baking soda
course salt (sea, kosher, or pretzel)
* I mixed these by hand, however you could also use a mixer with a dough hook attachment
1. Mix warm water and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top of the water and allow to sit for 10 minutes. The yeast will become foamy.
2. Add one cup of flour, mixing until combined. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 4 cups of flour and mix until combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add 1/2 cup more of flour and knead until combined. If the dough is still sticky you can add another 1/2 cup of flour, again kneading until combined. After all of the flour has been combined, knead about 10 times or until smooth.
3. Coat a large mixing bowl with oil or with cooking spray. Place dough in greased bowl, turning dough so that it is coated. Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray to baking sheets with cooking spray. Once dough has finished rising punch it down to remove any bubbles. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice to remove any leftover air pockets. Divide dough into individual balls depending upon the size pretzel you want to make. I made mini pretzels using a small handful of dough for each pretzel, and was able to make about 30 pretzels this way. Feel free to make them bigger too!
5. As you are rolling out your pretzels keep the rest of your dough covered with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Roll each dough ball into a long "snake" and then twist into a pretzel by holding each end and then crossing and twisting them (for a more detailed or visual explanation of this you can check out the Martha Stewart recipe on her website or just try doing a web search). Place each shaped pretzel onto the baking sheet and then cover with a dish towel.
6. Once all of your pretzels are formed allow them to rest for about 15 minutes or until the dough has risen slightly. Meanwhile, fill a large shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then add the baking soda and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Reduce to a simmer before adding 3-4 pretzels to the water. Poach pretzels for 1 minute on each side and then return to baking sheet with a slotted spoon.
7. After all of the pretzels have been poached, beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush each pretzel with the egg glaze and then sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on rack or eat warm (my favorite way). These are best when eaten the same day, but will last for about 2-3 days if kept out at room temperature. (Don't cover them up or they will get soggy!)
Happy Pretzel Eating! (Just writing this post has made me want to go make some more!)