For the pretzels:
- 10 cups water + 1/2 cup baking soda for boiling the pretzels
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1 pack (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 3/4 – 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the sweet topping:
- 4 tablespoons melted butter (salted or unsalted is fine)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar still together with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the savory topping:
- 1 large egg, beaten with a small splash of water for egg wash
- coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Set 10 cups of water in a large stock pot over medium-high heat to boil on the stovetop. Have 1/2 cup of baking soda standing by. Make sure the pot has tall sides as the water will temporarily double in size when you add the baking soda. Allow the water to slowly come to a boil while you make the dough.
- Add warm water to a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the water, followed by a little sprinkle of sugar. Measure 3 cups of flour atop the yeast mixture. Add the salt, remaining sugar, and softened butter. Use a firm spatula or wooden spoon to stir the dough together into a moist and shaggy ball.
- Add 3/4 cup more flour and measure the remaining 3/4 cup flour into a small bowl. Stir the dough with the additional flour.
- Generously flour a clean countertop with the measured flour from the small bowl. Bring the dough out of the bowl and begin to knead it on the counter. The dough will be soft and sticky. Continue to slowly add flour from the small bowl and you knead the dough for 5 to 7 minutes. Try not to allow your hands to get too sticky with dough. Rub dough from your hands, wash them clean, and continue kneading if this happens.
- You may not need to add all of the flour from the small bowl. You want a dough ball that holds its shape, is mostly (though not perfectly) smooth, bounces back to the touch, and is still a bit sticky. The stickiness will help when we roll the dough into ropes.
- Divide the dough into 8 or 10 pieces. You can eyeball this of weigh each dough ball to the same weight.
- Begin to roll each portion of dough into a rope. My ropes ranged from 20 to 25 inches. You want a very lightly floured counter to roll your ropes. The dough sticking to the counter a bit helps roll the ropes – it’s that little bit of tension. Once you have your long rope, take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape.
- Place each shaped pretzel on a lightly floured place on your counter and continue until all pretzels are shaped.
- Your water should be boiling by now. If it’s not, crank the heat and get a nice rolling boil. Carefully add the baking soda. The water will rise, fizz, and fuss but then calm down.
- Keep the water at a boil and with floured hands, gently lower two shaped pretzels into the water. Allow to simmer for 20 seconds. They’ll float to the top. Use a big slotted kitchen utensil to remove the pretzels from the boiling water and onto the prepared baking sheets. Give an inch or so between pretzels. Repeat until all of the pretzels are boiled.
- To make sweet pretzels, brush generously with melted butter. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.
- To make savory pretzels, brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Bake pretzels, one pan at a time, for 12-13 minutes. The pretzels will rise and crack as they bake up to golden brown. Rotate the pan once during baking. Repeat with the second pan.
- Serve pretzels with melted butter, mustard, or beer cheese. Enjoy warm!