Though reminiscent of the warm soft pretzels you may have had at baseball games or on the street, these are even better because they're fresh. Serve with yellow mustard.
- Active time: 45 minutes | Start to finish: 2½ hours
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 (¼-oz) package active dry yeast (2½ teaspoons)
- 3¾ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons pretzel salt
- special equipment: parchment paper
- Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1½ cups lukewarm water (105 to 110 °F) in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (if mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast) whisk together 3½ cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl.
- Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough.
- Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes. (dough needs to be somewhat sticky to facilitate rolling and forming into pretzels).
- Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
- Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 8 equal pieces.
- Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 24 inches long.
- If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour.
- Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (dough will retract as you form the pretzel) transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form 7 more pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1½ inches apart.
- Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
- Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil.
- Using both hands, carefully add 3 pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer parboiled pretzels to a rack to cool.
- Repeat with remaining 5 pretzels in 2 batches.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet.
- Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
- Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 35 minutes.
- Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.