As promised, here is my recipe for the finished pretzel bread. It’s seriously quite popular in my office, and that means I did something right.
Mike’s Signature Pretzel Bread - makes 2 small loaves
2 ¼ tsp yeast
1 cup water (110-120 degrees)
2 Tbsp room temperature milk
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
2 ½ – 3 cups bread flour
4 quarts water
½ cup baking soda
Kosher salt to taste
2 Tbsp melted butter
Add yeast, water, milk, brown sugar and butter into a large bowl, whisking until all ingredients are combined. Let mixture rest for 10 minutes for yeast to activate. Mix in kosher salt. Start by adding two cups of the flour to the bowl, combining it with other ingredients. Add more flour as it’s needed, reserving just a bit for coating the dough mat later.
The dough should form a slightly tacky, but firm ball. Oil the bowl, place the dough ball in the bowl, and cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, knead the dough by hand or machine for at least 5-10 minutes until the dough is elastic and satiny. Place dough back in the bowl and recover for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring the 4 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, slowly add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl and gently degas it. Form two separate balls of dough, forming them into the shape you want. Drop one of the smaller balls into the baking soda bath for no longer than 30 seconds, turning it once to guarantee both sides covered. Drain the excess water from the dough and place it on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with second ball of dough.
Sprinkle the kosher salt over the bread to your specific tastes, and make sure to use a knife to cut a small incision on the top of the bread so the dough has somewhere to expand.
Cook the bread for 22 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once.
Once removed from the oven, immediately brush the melted butter over the loaves to guarantee a soft crust.