Soft pretzels are always made with yeast dough and are in fact very similar to bagels in both composition and construction.
Although there is such a thing as salt-less pretzels, called “baldies,” I would suggest that they’re really not pretzels at all, but rather cruel jokes perpetrated by bitter bakers.
If you don’t have pretzel salt, coarse sea salt will do.
- 1 1/2 cups warm water, 110-115 degrees F
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil, for the bowl and pan
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel salt
- Combine the 1 1/2 cups warm water, the sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.
- Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.
- Bring the 10 cups water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a 12-inch straight-sided saute pan or a roasting pan (something wide and shallow is best).
- Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, and, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place on a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- One by one, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return them to the sheet pans, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
- Bake until dark golden brown in color, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- If you don't have pretzel salt, coarse sea salt will do.