03 February, 2008

Hot Buttered Pretzels


2 1/2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 t. salt

1 t. sugar

1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast

7/8 to 1 C. warm water

Baking Soda Wash

1/2 C. warm water

2 T. baking soda

Coarse or kosher salt

3 T. unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 500°F. after the dough has been allowed to rest (see next step).

Prepare dough:
Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and beat by hand or machine until well-combined. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag, al lowing it to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Prepare baking sheets: Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with nonstick vegetable oil spray.

Divide the dough:
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each). Allow the pieces to rest uncovered for 5 minutes.

Prepare the dip:
Combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda in a shallow bowl, making sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved, or it'll make a splotchy glaze.

Shape the pretzels:
Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), form into a pretzel. Dip each pretzel in the baking-soda wash (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden brown color), drain on paper towel to re move excess water and place them on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with pretzel salt. Allow pretzels to rest uncovered 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels:
Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes or until they're golden brown, reversing the baking sheets halfway through. Remove the pretzels from the oven to a cooling rack. Brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Continue brushing until all the butter is used; that's what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste.

Pretzels are best fresh from the oven or reheat them in an oven or microwave.

Makes 8 pretzels.