Introduction: Homemade Soft Pretzels

About: When I get bored, I cook or knit. I get bored a lot.
It's easy and fun to make these soft pretzels at home. They're fairly big, chewy and soft at the same time, and delicious with mustard. I made salty pretzels, but you could probably make cinnamon sugar ones and they'd be good too.

Step 1: Ingredients and Making the Dough

Makes 12 Pretzels
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp sugar
1 cp warm water
3 cps flour (and more for surface)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp butter, softened
vegetable oil or cooking spray for baking sheets
3 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp pretzel salt

Mix yeast, coarse salt, sugar, and warm water together in a small bowl. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Let stand until foamy. (about 5 mins)
Mix the flour and the cayenne pepper. Cut in butter and mix until it is mixed and crumbly. Slowly pour the yeast mixture over. Knead on floured counter until no longer sticky. (5-10 mins). Put the dough-ball in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let the dough rise for 30 mins. 

Step 2: Shaping the Pretzels

Cut dough into 12 equally-sized pieces. Roll into "ropes." Twist the ropes into pretzel shape.  (see photo.) Place onto an oiled baking sheet. Let them rise for 20 minutes. The pretzels might shrink a bit after being stretched, but this is okay.

Step 3: Boil the Pretzels

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. 
Boil a large pot of water. Add the baking soda to the water. 
In batches of 2 or 3 at a time, boil the pretzels in the water. They will float. Let them boil in there about 2 or 3 minutes per side, flipping with a slotted spoon, until they are puffy and big and not stretchy. 
Drain the pretzels on a wire rack; return to baking sheet.

Step 4: Bake the Pretzels

Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse salt, if you want. Bake them in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until they're golden brown and set. 

When I made these, the bottoms of some of the pretzels were a bit soggy, so I flipped them over and baked them for an additional 2 or 3 minutes. 

Step 5: Enjoy!

Enjoy your homemade soft pretzels with mustard or butter, if you like!