I had a craving for soft pretzels - you know, like the kind you get at the mall. But since I didn't want to make the long trek to the galleria I figured I'd make them myself. Found a recipe online and in about two hours I managed to satisfy my craving for carbs and salt. Eat your heart out Auntie Anne's!
Makes 6 large pretzels
1 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark)
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in to cubes at room temperature
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons course salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
grated parmesan cheese (ideally fresh, not out of the can)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dijon mustard
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Prepare the sauce: Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
For the pretzels: Warm the milk in a saucepan until it's about 110 degrees; pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon. Dice 2 tablespoons butter and soften; stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough seems tight, cover and let rest until it relaxes.) Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
Immediately remove the baking sheet from the oven and rub the cold butter across the entire surface of each pretzel. If desired, sprinkle the parmesan cheese and ground pepper on top of the buttered pretzels. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.