Last week I made my brother-in-law pretzels for his Thanksgiving host gift. My favorite pretzel recipe is lost so I tried this one from Joy of Cooking. Next time, I will use an egg wash before baking.
Combine in a mixer bowl:
1 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 package active dry yeast
When dissolved, add and beat at least 3 minutes:
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour and knead until the dough loses its stickiness. Let rise in a covered greased bowl until doubled in bulk.
Punch down and divide into 12 pieces for pretzels or 36 smaller pieces for sticks. With your palms, roll the 12 pretzel pieces into 18-inch lengths about pencil thickness, tapering the ends slightly. Loop a twisted oval (the book shows a diagram). Place on a greased baking sheet and let rise until almost doubled in bulk. (I made 24 snakes that I tied into knots.)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
Have ready a boiling solution of:
4 cups water
5 tablespoons baking soda
Do not use an aluminum pan for this mixture.
With a slotted spoon, carefully lower the pretzels into the water about 1 minute, or until they float to the top. Return them to the greased sheet.
Bake until crispy and browned, about 12 minutes for the pretzels, less for the sticks.
They are best served at once, but will keep about one week in an airtight container. Cool before storing.