Okay, this one needs no story. This is just a recipe that is an amalgam of recipes claiming to be similar to "Mall" pretzels (you know the kind). I made these for the first time yesterday, and Abe thinks they're spot-on. I think they could use a bit more chewiness, so I've added in a bit of bread flour into the recipe. But if you don't have bread flour, don't sweat it--I used all all-purpose yesterday, and they still turned out really well. I ate four of them.
4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. white sugar
1 1/4 c. warm water
1 c. bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
all-purpose flour *
1/4 c. baking soda
2 c. hot water
kosher or sea salt, or pretzel salt, if you've got it
3 Tbsp. melted butter
FIRST, mix together the yeast, 1 tsp. sugar, and 1 1/4 c. warm water, and set aside for 5 minutes to let the yeast get foamy. When it has, add in the oil.
Then, in a large bowl, combine the bread flour, sugar, and salt. Mix in the yeast mixture, *and then continue to add all-purpose flour until it makes a soft dough. (approx. 3-4 cups.) Turn dough onto a well-floured counter top, and knead in more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour).
In a large bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the hot water.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Dump the dough out onto the counter top and flatten slightly. Then, using a knife or pizza cutter, cut off a strip that is approximately 1/12th of the total dough. Roll it on the counter until it is about 16 inches long. Then, twist into the classic pretzel shape, dunk in the baking soda/water mixture, and transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet, or a cookie sheet that is well-greased. Repeat until all of the pretzels are twisted. You'll need two cookie sheets.
Then, sprinkle lightly with the salt, and pop into the hot oven. Bake for 4 minutes, then rotate baking sheets top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake until the pretzels are golden brown.
Remove from oven and brush with lots of melted butter. Enjoy!
Makes 12 pretzels.