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
- 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.