When I was a teenager, I loved nothing more than going to the mall. Usually I was there with my friend Briea. After debating about what to spend our allowances on, surrendering to spontaneous fits of giggling, and bringing too many clothes into the dressing rooms, we'd saunter down to the food court and split a soft pretzel.
The mall and I don't see much of each other anymore, but I do still crave the occasional chewy, buttery pretzel. Lucky for me (and you), soft pretzels are easy to make. The secret to getting that lovely brown shade is to give them a brief baking soda bath.
The Mall Pretzels (makes 6)
adapted from Jeannie Yee
¾ cup warm water (110°F)
1 ¼ tsp of active dry yeast (half of a .25 ounce package)
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (110°F)
2 tbsp baking soda (for soaking)
½ tbsp butter, melted
coarse kosher salt (or pretzel salt)
mustard, for dipping (optional)
Pour ¾ cup warm water into a mixing bowl. Dissolve yeast, brown sugar, and salt into the water. Stir in flour. When mixture comes together, dump onto a floured surface. Knead dough about 8 minutes, until smooth. Pour a few drops of olive oil into mixing bowl; place dough in and turn to coat surface. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
When dough is ready, cut into 6 pieces. Roll each into ½ inch thick ropes. Shape pretzels by forming a U, then twisting ends and flipping over onto itself, gently pressing overlapping dough to seal. Let rise for 15 minutes.
Fill a bowl with 1 cup warm water. Add baking soda and stir. Soak each pretzel for 30 seconds, flipping over halfway through if not fully submerged. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle coarse salt over top. (If you prefer sweet pretzels, use cinnamon sugar instead of salt.) Bake at 450°F for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. For an extra buttery flavor, brush on a little more melted butter when the pretzels come out of the oven.