Soft Pretzels

I have a huge hankering for pretzels lately - specifically to use as sandwich bread *yum*! We love any recipe by Alton Brown so, of course, we used his recipe for Homemade Soft Pretzels.
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4 oz packet)
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces salted butter, melted

Vegetable oil spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (optional)

Pour water into mixer bowl, then sprinkle sugar and yeast on top of the water. Let sit for 5 minutes, until frothy. Then add flour and butter. Mix on low until combined, then on medium for 4-5 minutes, until dough forms a smooth ball. Put dough into a greased bowl, cover with saran wrap, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (about an hour).

Preheat oven to 450. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with oil. Bring water and baking soda to a rolling boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope. Twist into the shape of a pretzel, or other desired shape. Place onto the sheet pan.

Place pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds. Remove them using a large, flat spatula. Return back to the sheet pan, brush the top with the beaten egg yolk, and sprinkle with salt if desired. Bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before eating.

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