The traditional shape of the pretzel is said to show children’s arms formed in prayer, creating three holes that represent the holy trinity.

Serves: 8Hands-on: 40 minutesTotal: 10 hours 10 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 8


  • 1 3⁄4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 1⁄8 tsp. table salt, divided
  • 1⁄4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1⁄4 cup pretzel salt


  • To make the sponge, combine yeast with 1 cup warm water, stir to dissolve, and let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 cup bread flour and beat 1 minute. Cover and let stand at room temperature 8 hours.
  • Add to the sponge an additional 1 cup water, sugar, oil, 2 teaspoons table salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Return to bowl, dust with flour, cover with plastic, and rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  • Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface. Shape into a rope, about 3 inches thick. Slice into 2-inch pieces, then roll each into a tight ball. Leave balls on the floured surface, dust with flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and proof for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine 2 quarts water with baking soda and 2 teaspoons table salt in a large, deep skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Working with one roll at a time, roll into a thin rope about 1 1⁄2" long. Form into a pretzel knot by bringing the ends of the rope into the center, crossing them, and attaching to opposite ends by pressing firmly.
  • Drop each pretzel into simmering liquid and poach 30 seconds on each side. Remove, tap off excess water, and place on a baking sheet, seam-side down. Mix egg with remaining 1⁄8 teaspoon table salt and brush lightly onto bagels. Sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.