One of my favorite after-school snacks as a kid was a warm pretzel dipped in mustard. Even as an adult, I love to stop at the mall pretzel place, or at a food kart at the amusement park, and get a giant pretzel to share with my kids. Several years ago, when I attended an Oktoberfest celebration with my husband and then four-month old, I couldn't wait for a warm, just slightly salted pretzel, slightly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. When I decided to plan an Oktoberfest-themed meal this year, I knew this carb bomb was a must! Enjoy...I know I will!
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking soda
3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt, or to taste
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir together 1 cup of flour, yeast, sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1 1/3 cup water. Let this mixture stand until bubble begin to form, about 15 minutes. Stir in the salt and gradually stir in the remaining flour until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding more flour if needed.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces and let them rest for a few minutes. Roll out one piece at a time into a rope about 15 inches long. Loop and twist into that cool pretzel shape. Set on a baking sheet while you roll out the remaining portions.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bring the remaining 3 cups of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Remove from the heat. Dip pretzels into the water bath for about 45 seconds, flipping over about halfway through. Place the soaked pretzels on a greased baking sheet and brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve warm, with your favorite mustard for dipping!