1 1/2 cups warm water, 110-115°F
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
About 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for the bowl and pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- Stir together the 1 1/2 cups warm water, the vinegar, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.
- If using a stand mixer: Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
- If mixing by hand; continue to knead until the dough is glossy and isn’t sticky anymore. Probably a good 8-10 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Heat the oven to 450°F. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.
- Bring the 10 cups water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a 12-inch straight-sided saute pan or a roasting pan (something wide and shallow is best).
- Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope with the middle being thicker than the ends. Make a U-shape with the rope, and, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place on a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- One by one, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return them to the sheet pans, sprinkle with coarse salt and slash each pretzel about 1/4 inch deep with a sharp knife across the chunky middle part.
- Bake until dark golden brown in color, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Brush with melted butter if desired, or serve with mustard.