Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 – 115F) water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt (kosher salt or table salt)
2 1/2 tsp yeast (active dry)
Approx. 4 – 4.5 cups flour (half whole wheat and half all purpose)
1/4 cup melted butter
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk, beaten
1 Tbsp water
olive oil for pan

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top.
Allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until the yeast begins to foam.
Add the flour, salt, and butter to the bowl. Using the dough attachment, mix on low speed until combined. Turn up to medium and mix until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add flour (one Tbsp at a time) until it pulls away. If the dough is too dry, add water (one Tbsp at a time) until it holds together and pulls away from the bowl.
Remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and oil it with olive oil or cooking spray. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size (approx one hour)

Preheat the oven to 450F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and lightly brush with some olive oil. Set aside.
Bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add in 2/3 cup of baking soda to the water
While the water is coming to a boil, shape pretzels. Turn your risen dough out onto a slightly greased surface and divide into 8 pieces (you could do more if you want smaller pretzels.)

Roll each piece into a rope about 20-24 inches long – the longer the rope, the skinnier the pretzel. Then shape into pretzel shape. You can use beaten egg yolk to help stick the ends down if pinching them, alone, doesn’t seem to work. Drop the pretzels, one by one, into the boiling water/baking soda mixture for only 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove and place on the parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.

In a small bowl, beat together one egg yolk with 1 Tbsp water. Brush this egg mixture on the tops of each pretzel, then sprinkle with sea salt (optional.)
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown in color and the surface develops some cracks. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


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