Soft Pretzels

Clearly, forming a pretzel knot is not my strength but nonetheless, these were pure heaven. They taste like a certain mall pretzel but without the gross fake butter flavor. The recipe is adapted from

1 cup milk
scant 2 t instant yeast
3 T packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T butter, diced plus about 4-6 T butter melted for brushing on the finished pretzels
1 t fine sea salt
coarse salt or pretzel salt for sprinkling before baking

1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups warm water

Mix the flour, salt, yeast and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Warm the milk and butter in a small  saucepan until it bubbles around the edges.  When the milk is still very warm but not scalding (use your finger– if you don’t sustain third degree burns, it’s ready to use) add it to the flour mixture and mix with the dough hook for about 5 minutes. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but not the sides; it will be soft and tacky. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let this rise. The recipe says 1 hour but it is now winter and my house is freezing so it pretty much took forever (meaning like 3 hours). Don’t rush this step; yeasted dough is on it’s own timeline- let it rise until it is puffy.

Preheat the oven to 450ยบ and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (I needed 2 baking sheets). Divide the dough into 6 pieces on the counter and let it rest about 10 minutes, covered with plastic. Roll and stretch each piece between the palms of your hands (like you are trying to start a fire with 2 sticks) until you have a rope about 30″ long. Try not to use additional flour in these steps as that will make for a tough dough. Form each rope into a pretzel as best as you can.

Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water in a shallow dish and dunk each pretzel in the solution before placing it on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 12 minutes. After you take them out of the oven, SLATHER them with melted butter– and I mean slather. Then shovel in as many as you can because they are that good. I liked dunking mine in dijon mustard.

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