1 ½ cups warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons oil
a pot of boiling water
a few tablespoons baking soda
1 large egg, beaten, with a splash of water (optional)
coarse salt for topping
First off, you have two choices when it comes to making the dough. A) You can be lazy and pull out your mixer. B) You can be a true baker and knead it by hand!
Either way you have to hydrate the yeast first so I guess you can decide while you are waiting. Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a bowl. Give it a quick stir to dissolve if you choose. Then sit back and relax until it becomes nice and foamy. If you are lucky, you may even see mini yeast fireworks on the surface of the water (those of you who have seen this before know exactly what I am talking about…everyone else thinks that I am crazy…oh well).
Once this occurs you can add the flour, salt and oil (I used plain old canola). For those of you using your mixer, Joy says to beat on medium speed for 4 minutes (with the dough hook attachment, the whisk may not work too hot). You know it’s done when the dough forms a ball, pulls away from the sides of the bowl and begins to climb up the dough hook.
For those of you opting to knead by hand, kudos to you! It really isn’t difficult in the least. Mix in the flour, salt and oil to create a homogeneous mixture (basically a sticky, floury mass). Proper kneading technique would suggest that you fold the right hand side of the dough ball into the centre. Think of it like a clock, fold from 3 o’clock into the middle. Then turn it counterclockwise to 12 o’clock and push through, rolling the dough smoothly across the counter. Repeat. Or just do whatever works for you. You are looking for an end result that is smooth like a baby’s bum yet passes the windowpane test. A.K.A. you can rip off a piece of the dough, stretch it out and be able to see through it, without it tearing.
Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover it and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.
Until it looks like this. A giant mushroom cloud of doughy goodness.
Then you can knock the air out and portion it out into 8 pieces like this (or less if you prefer larger pretzels).
You should probably get a pot of water boiling at this point too.
Add a few tablespoons of baking soda to the boiling water. Cook for about 1 minute until the pretzels plump up.
Bake at 425 F until golden about 25-30 minutes depending on your oven.