I made my brother-in-law jealous with all the pretzels I’ve been making and not sharing, so I decided to make a batch for him to enjoy (and the rest of us as well, as this recipe makes 12-16 pretzels).
The good thing about this batch is that you can press pause after shaping them and place them in the freezer for later boiling and baking. It means delicious, warm pretzels later without repeating the process. You boil them from frozen, so it is a nice thing to keep around for a craving.
These make soft pretzels with a nice yeasty taste. Pop leftover cooked ones in the toaster oven for a quick rewarming. I gave my sister a bag of unbaked, frozen ones to take home and cook, whenever they want more.
1 cup warm water
½ cup sourdough starter
1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast (about a package and a half)
½ cup packed dark-brown sugar
½ cup beer
6 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
4 tablespoons coarse salt
½ cup (1 stick) frozen unsalted butter, plus more for serving
Nonstick cooking spray
½ cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten in 1 tablespoon water
In a medium bowl, mix together warm water, yeast, and 1/2 cup brown sugar; let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together flour and coarse salt. Grate frozen butter into bowl and mix with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Stir beer into yeast mixture and mix into flour until a shaggy dough is formed and liquid is absorbed.
Using the dough hook attachment, mix dough on medium speed until dough is tight, elastic, and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator; let chill at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
Remove dough from refrigerator and let come to room temperature.
Roll dough out into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut dough into about a dozen 12-inch-long strips, each about 1-inch wide.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out each piece into a 24 to 30-inch-long rope (about 3/4-inch thick), starting from the center and working toward the ends. Make a “U” shape with the rope and cross the ends over twice, pinching at the bottom of the “U” to form a pretzel. Return to baking sheet and repeat process with remaining dough.
If you don’t want to bake all your pretzels at once you can freeze them overnight or for several days at this point. Just place the shaped pretzels on a baking sheet and place into the freezer. If you’re not going to eat them right away, place in a zip top bag once hard frozen.
When ready to continue, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. Add in baking soda. Simmer pretzels, one at a time, about 30 seconds, holding them under the surface of the water, if necessary, using a spider or slotted spatula. For pretzels straight out of the freezer, boil for 1 minute. Place on wire rack to drain, then transfer to prepared baking sheet and repeat process with remaining pretzels.
Coat pretzels with egg wash. Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate baking sheet, and bake until deep brown, 6 – 8 minutes more. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Serve warm with butter or mustard.