One of my favorite recipes for pretzels originally appeared at King Arthur Flour. The recipe is not currently available from King Arthur's website, but I am posting it here. I like this recipe because it is so tasty I always have all the ingredients in my cupboard. You can use all white flour or substitute whole wheat flour for half of the white. This recipe is one of my grandkids' favorite recipes to "help" with and they frequently ask to make pretzels when they are here. This recipe makes 8 pretzels, but I think you could also make this recipe into more, smaller pretzels or into pretzel bites.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup very warm water
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds (optional)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix to just combine. Add the water and mix well, adding more flour, as needed, a bit at a time to form a soft, smooth dough that clears the sides and bottom of the bowl. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth and quite slack. You want a really soft dough that isn’t overly sticky. 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 or up to 60 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 500°F (Yes, it really says 500!). Prepare two baking sheets by 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. (I stir it a bit just before I brush a new pretzel)
Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (14 to 22 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel.
Dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash (this is what gives the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color). I prefer to brush mine with a silicon brush--it's easier for children to brush than dip.
Place them on the prepared baking sheets.
Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Bake until golden brown, 7-9 minutes.
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. The butter gives them a wonderful flavor, do not skip or use less butter.
You can also top with sesame or poppy seeds or sugar/cinnamon.