Traditional recipes are fat-free, but adding a bit of butter really adds an extra special savory flavor! For a fat-free version, or a drier crunch, omit the butter from this recipe.
- One 1/4 oz/7g package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
- 1 cup (240 mL) warm water (between 100 and 115F)
- 1 tbsp barley malt syrup or 1 tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 3 1/2 cups (440 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the bowl
- 2 tsp fine sea salt, such as fleur de sel or sel gris
- 2 tbsp food-grade lye OR replace with 1/4 cup (60g) baking soda. (For more information about how to use lye while making pretzels, and why its important see here: http://www.vingle.net/posts/455135)
- Coarse salt for topping
Makes 24 classic pretzels.
1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer or in large bowl.
2. Add the barley malt syrup, stirring in until it is dissolved. Allow yeast to bloom until foamy (about 5 to 7 minutes).
3. Add the flour, butter and fine sea salt. Stir to form a shaggy mass.
4. Attach the bowl and the dough hook to the stand mxier and begin kneading on medium-low speed. After 1 minute, the dough will form a smooth ball. It should be firm, and maybe tacky, but not sticky. If it is sticky, add flour 1 tbsp at a time, kneading until it is smooth. If its dry, add water, 1 tsp at a time.
5. Continue kneading the dough on medium-low speed until it is elastic, 5 to 7 minutes.
5b. If you don't have a dough hook, you can do steps 4 and 5 by hand on an unfloured work surface.
6. Choose a bowl that can hold the dough even after it doubles in size. Lightly grease it with butter. Put the dough in the greased bowl and wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.
7. Put the bowl in the refrigerator to rise for at least 8 hours, and up to 24 hours for the best flavor.
8. Line two 12 by 17in baking sheets with parchment paper.
9. Turn the dough out onto unfloured work surface and press it down to deflate. Cut it into 4 equal portions, and divide each portion into 6 small chunks of dough.
10. Working one piece of dough at a time (keep the rest damp with a clean kitchen towel), pat it down with your finger tips to form a rough rectangle. Roll it up tightly, starting at the long side, to form a cylinder. Shape the dough into a rope 18 in long by rolling it against the work surface, working form the center out.
11. Apply a little more pressure as you get to the ends to taper them slightly If you need friction, spray the counter with a little water and spread it with your hands. If you don't roll to the right length in this step, the baking time will be off.
12. Position the dough rope into a U shape, with ends away from you.
13. Holding an end in each hand, cross the ends, and then cross them again. Fold the ends down and press them into the U at about 4 and 8 o'clock, making the pretzel shape.
14. Put pretzels on one of the prepared baking sheets and cover it with a damp towel while you finish the others.
15. Place the pretzels at least 1 in apart on the sheet. Once the sheet is full, put it in the refrigerator while you finish the other sheet so they don't overproof.
16. Allow both completed trays to sit at warm room temperature until the pretzels have doubled in size (about 30 to 40 minutes). You can wrap the pans tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerator for up to 8 hours at this point before baking and dipping them.
17. At least 20 minutes before baking, put one shelf at the top third and one at the bottom third and preheat to 325F.
18. Dip the pretzels, working with 4 to 6 pretzels at a time, in the lye or baking soda solution. After dipping, sprinkle with salt and bake immediately.
19. Bake for 25 minutes, and then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom to ensure even baking.
20. Cook until mahogany brown--which could take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes. To test for doneness, remove a pretzel and break it in half. If the center is still a little chewy, continue baking. If they're brown but not done inside, remove the pan from oven and let them cool while you reduce the oven temperature to 300. Put them back in to finish hardening to a crisp.
21. Test pretzels after 10 minutes, then in 5 minute increments. When they are hard, transfer to a cooling rack. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.