I lived in the States for 10 years and will never forget walking through a mall and getting a waft of buttery, salty pretzels before you could even see the shop. Every so often I get a craving for these pretzels and have to ignore it as there's nowhere near me here in England that makes them and the odd one that I have found is nothing at all like the ones I am used to.
So...I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own!
I've never really been much of a baker and any recipe that calls for yeast of any kind fils me with dread so it was a bit of a challenge for me to make these but I was really surprised at how easy they are!
After researching (aka Pintrest-ing), I have just put together my own recipe and tried to keep it as simple as possible!
Pour the warm water (skin temperature) into a mixing bowl and add the dry yeast.
Stir gently to dissolve as much of the yeast as possible then add the flour, sugar, salt and milk. I just used the bowl of my mixer then whacked on the dough hook and let it mix on the lowest setting for about 5 minutes but it can be mixed easily by hand. You want the dough to be smooth and should come away from the bowl easily.
Lightly oil a bowl, put in the dough, cover it with a damp tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour.
Once risen, punch down the dough and separate into 10 balls of dough (more if you want smaller pretzels of course). I found that I didn't need to flour the surface to roll the dough but if your dough is a little sticky, use a small amount of flour to stop the dough from sticking.
Roll out the dough into long ropes, about 40cm long. I found it easier to roll out from the middle of the dough.
Twist into a pretzel shape.
Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and allow to rise again while the oven heats up to 230C.
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a light boil and add the baking soda. I used about a pint and half of water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda but you will have to adjust this depending on the size of your pan.
One by one, place the pretzels into the water for 30 seconds, return to the baking tray, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. I used sea salt from my salt grinder which was set to a coarse grind.
Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown and eat immediately (or cool on a wire rack to be eaten later!)
These are delicious on their own but would be lovely with some dips - garlic butter, cheese sauce, honey and mustard...
820g plain flour
375ml warm water
125ml warm milk
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fast action dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
Olive oil (to grease a bowl)