Hot Baked Pretzels

Pretzels are commonly thought to have originated in Bavaria, but they can be traced back to Roman times. Legend says that the crossed ends represent arms folded in prayer.
Easy to make, allow one hour to rise, these pretzels are a great fall addition to an Oktoberfest party or stack them up on dowels and take-along to the weekend tailgate. Mustard optional!

Hot Baked Pretzels Recipe
Makes 12 large pretzels
 
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water, 120 degrees F
4 1/2 - 5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
 
For Pretzel Wash:
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
 
For The Topping:
1/4 cup kosher salt
Optional Additional Toppings: caraway seeds, sesame seeds, Parmesan cheese
 
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and brown sugar in warm water. Let yeast bloom for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the dough is too wet add the remaining 1/2 cup a flour a little at a time. Knead the dough until smooth and it comes off the sides of the bowl cleanly about two minutes; then remove to a floured board and knead for a total of about 4-5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place (about 80 degrees) until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
When risen, turn dough out onto a large lightly floured cutting board and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about eight inches in length, and twist into a pretzel shape. With a large skimmer, dip each pretzel dough into the baking soda solution and back on cutting board, top each pretzel with salt and any other optional topping.
Place pretzels on a greased baking sheet, bake for 8 minutes, or until browned.
 
From Adventures in Grilling Cookbook, by George Hirsch with Marie Bianco.