Pretzels get their bronzed and pleasantly bitter exteriors from a quick poach in a baking soda solution, which hastens the browning as they bake. Rye flour’s sweet maltiness is perfect for pretzels; the only things you need to serve alongside are cold beers and an assortment of mustards and dips.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine water and honey. Sprinkle with yeast, and let stand until foamy, 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk 3 cups all-purpose flour, rye flour, and salt. Add 1 cup of flour mixture to yeast, and knead on low until combined. Add the remaining 4 cups flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, and knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Knead on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1½ minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup all-purpose flour, and knead on low until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 6 minutes more.
- Pour melted butter into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and leave in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, 1 to 3 hours.
- Butter 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Punch down dough to remove any air bubbles. Transfer to a very lightly floured work surface. Pat into a rectangle and cut the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 3½ ounces each).
- Working with one piece at a time and keeping the others covered lightly with plastic, roll the dough into an 18-inch-long rope. Make a “U” shape with the rope and cross the ends over, pinching them at the bottom of the “U” to form a pretzel. Transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets, cover with a kitchen towel, and repeat process with remaining dough, dividing them between the 2 sheets. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°F. Fill a large, wide pot with water (about 10 minutes); bring to a boil and add baking soda.
- Reduce water to a simmer and add 3 or 4 pretzels. Poach for 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon or a spider to return pretzels to baking sheets. Poach remaining pretzels.
- Brush pretzels with beaten egg. Sprinkle evenly with salt and seeds. Bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. (Pretzels are best the day they’re made, but can be lightly covered and kept at room temperature up to 2 days.)
Reprinted from A New Way to Bake. Copyright © 2017 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.