Homemade Pretzels: Be Your Own Auntie Anne's

Why do shopping malls hide Auntie Anne's Pretzels in the midst of chaos when all we want is that salty, and sometimes sweet, twisted treat? No, we don't want to endure an obstacle course of kiosks and getting spritzed in the eye by aggressive perfume saleswomen, or have our feet stepped on by annoying youngsters off their leashes. There has to be an easier way to lay our hands on that snack while avoiding the mall madness. And now there is.

These pretzels are pretty darn easy to make and extremely satisfying. No muss and fuss for us. The ingredients are simple and most likely in your cupboard already, so what the heck are you waiting for? Get your butt in the kitchen -- it's time to make some pretzels!

Homemade Pretzels
Adapted from Sprinkles of Parsley

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour

Baking Soda Bath (in separate bowl)
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda

(whatever you like)
4 tablespoons melted butter
grainy mustard

1. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups warm water with yeast and stir to dissolve the yeast.
2. Add sugar and salt, and stir to dissolve.
3. Add all-purpose and bread flour and, either by hand or in a mixer, stir until combined.
4. Either by hand or with a mixer, knead for 5-7 minutes until dough becomes elastic and forms a ball.
5. Place ball of dough in a large pot greased copiously with olive oil, and cover. Allow dough to rise for 1 hour.
6. Once dough has risen, it's time to form the pretzels. Each pretzel equals 3/4 cup dough. You can shape the dough however you like as long as it is no more than a 1/2-inch thick.
7. Dip pretzels into baking soda bath and place onto greased cookie sheets.
8. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Adaption: I took fresh sage from my garden, chopped it finely, and sprinkled it into the dough while I formed the pretzel. They all came out of the oven fully bronzed and delicious, with a
dense chew and that classic pretzel taste (which you achieve only when using the baking soda bath).

A fun topping is salted caramel, or fill your pretzels with Nutella, or mix in other savory herbs
such as rosemary or tarragon with maybe some fleur de sel. Or how does a ginger-infused pretzel topped with black sesame seeds and tamarind glaze sound? Oh, yes, we're excited to come up with new recipes. Once you master the basic technique for making these babies, the possibilities are endless!

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