A couple pretzel facts: Pretzels were probably invented by monks, who seem to have created and perfected a ton of delicious and amazing things (beers, cheese, fruit brandies), most of which involve long, often weird processes. I suppose that's because they have a HELL of a lot of free time on their hands. What makes pretzels different from just "bread" is that they are given some extra special treatment - a soda or lye wash - this process gives it that tanned, crunchy kinda skin on the outside and the "pretzel" taste we've grown to love. The shape has some religious connotations and also is what gave us the phrase "tying the knot" in marriage. And, thanks to the Reading Pretzel Machine Company - who created the first automated pretzel forming machine in 1935, we no longer have to spend all of the time rolling out the dough and forming it into twist.
Random fact: The Beastie Boys album, "Pretzel Nugget", contained a song, which went on to have one of the best music videos of all time - Sabotage.
Enough of that, let's get to making pretzels!! They really are easy to make, and you can't beat a freshly baked pretzel right out of the oven! The worst part of this recipe is the waiting game, but it's well worth it. So grab your ingredients and get to cooking!
Makes 12 large pretzels
1 T dark brown sugar
2 T unsalted butter, softened
2 T instant yeast
6 cups AP flour
1 T kosher salt
1/4 c baking soda
Coarse sea salt, or pretzel salt - I used Maldon because I had neither, and hell, I'm fancy so why not