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Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

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Pretzels are available crisp and hard from your grocery or, if you’re lucky and in the right place, soft and chewy from street vendors. Our recipe is for the soft, chewy kind. The melted butter brushed over the crust is a bonus street vendors don’t offer!

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Photo and recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour.

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Ingredients:

Dough
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water*
*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Topping
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt, optional
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Method

To make dough by hand, or with a mixer: 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’s soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.

To make dough with a food processor: Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the work bowl of a food processor equipped with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the water, and process for 7 to 10 seconds, until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl. Process a further 45 seconds. Place a handful of flour in a bowl, scoop the slack dough into the bowl, and shape the dough into a ball, coating it with the flour. Transfer the dough to a plastic bag, close the bag loosely, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).

Set the EGG for indirect cooking at 475°F/246°C, using the Plate Setter, legs up with cooking grid. Preheat a Pizza Baking Stone on the cooking grid.

Transfer the dough to a Big Green Egg Dough Rolling Mat or a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Pour the baking soda/water into a 9″ square pan.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28″ to 30″ long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Working with 4 pretzels at a time, place them in the pan with the baking soda/water, spooning the water over their tops; leave them in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the baking sheet. This baking soda “bath” will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color.

Transfer the pretzels to a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt, if desired. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Remove the pretzels from the parchment and place on the preheated stone and bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.

Remove the pretzels from the stone 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 an oven or microwave.

Yields 8 large pretzels