Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 1996
- 2 cups hot water, about 110 degrees
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 large egg
- Coarse or pretzel salt
- Vegetable oil cooking spray
Pour 2 cups hot water into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Check water with instant-read thermometer to register about 110 degrees. Add sugar, stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 5 minutes; yeast should bubble.
Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and beat on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about 10 times, or until smooth.
Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each), and wrap in plastic.
Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; 8 will fit on each sheet. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda. Reduce to a simmer; transfer 3 to 4 pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for 2 days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.