1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast (Red Star Platinum rec.)
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups bread flour
1 tsp. canola oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
Coarse sea salt
1. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until it is combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
4. Oil a bowl with canola, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
6. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat and add the baking soda.
7. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each into an even ball, about 3-inches wide. Place each piece onto the parchment-lined sheet pans.
* If you wish to make these into pretzels, roll each piece out into a rope about 20 inches long and twist the end and fold them back down onto the middle of the rope. You can make these into pretzel bites as well - roll each piece into a rope about 20 inches long and cut the ropes into 1-inch pieces.
8. Boil the rolls (or pretzels or pretzel bites) in the water/baking soda for 30 seconds each, moving around and splashing up onto the tops of the rolls. Remove from the solution and place back onto the baking sheets. Sprinkle the tops liberally with coarse sea salt and then cut an "x" into the tops of each roll. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-16 minutes, watching closely at the end so they reach the desired brown color but don't burn.
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