Makes 12. From Baking Illustrated.
A 12-inch skillet is the best pan for blanching the pretzels. The pan is wide enough to fit 3 or 4 pretzels at a time, and the shallow sides make it easy to add and remove the pretzels from the water. Any wide pot or Dutch oven may be substituted if a skillet is not handy. Coarse salt is best (as well as traditional), but if it is unavailable, kosher salt may be substituted. The pretzels are best eaten the day they are baked but will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days or in the freezer, wrapped well, for 2 weeks.
|1||teaspoon instant yeast|
|3||cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour , plus more for dusting the work surface|
|1||cup warm water (about 110 degrees)|
|3||tablespoons baking soda|
|1||cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or pepperjack cheese|
1. Mix together the yeast, honey, salt, flour, and water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the dough hook, knead at low speed until a smooth, elastic ball of dough forms (the dough will be quite stiff), 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Deflate the dough, cover, and let rise until nearly doubled in size again, 30 to 40 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pour 6 cups water into a 12-inch skillet, add the baking soda, stir, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray generously wih vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.
4. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 2 ounces each). Roll each piece into a 20-inch-long, 1/2-inch-wide rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel and place on the prepared baking sheet.
5. Using a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, gently place the pretzels into boiling water, top-side down (you should be able to fit 3 or 4 pretzels at a time), for 30 seconds. Using tongs, carefully flip the pretzels over and boil for 30 seconds longer. Remove the pretzels with a slotted spoon, drain well, and place back onto the prepared baking sheet (because the pretzels will not rise much in the oven, you should be able to fit all 12 pretzels on one baking sheet). Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until the pretzels are well-browned, turning the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Remove the pretzels from the baking sheet to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.