Chewy Soft Pretzels Makes 8 pretzels
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm water
2 Tlbs. baking soda
3 Tbls. butter, melted
Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and beat until well combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth, and quite slack. Lightly flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag; close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with vegetable oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces. Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda, and place it in a shallow bowl or pie plate. make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn't, it will make your pretzels splotchy.
Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown. I only bake one baking sheet at a time and let the other rest while the first is in the oven.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you've used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that's what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in a oven or microwave. (King Arthur flour recipe)