Warm, soft, lightly salted pretzels remind me of fall. They seem to go hand in hand with sweaters and crisp afternoons, county fairs and for all of my fellow New Englanders out there the Big E. I have always loved pretzels, but didn’t love the long process traditional pretzels require. When I first found this recipe I nearly jumped for joy and when I found that these baked pretzels where just as good and soft as the ones I remember buying on cold October evenings I just had to share them with everyone I know which of course means you!

Makes 12 medium-size or 24 small pretzels

4 1⁄2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 package (21⁄4 teaspoons) instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1⁄2 cups warm water
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, well beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel (coarse) salt, as needed

Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Do not use a convection oven for this recipe.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt, and stir to mix; add the water, butter, and egg yolk, and mix on low until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead the dough at the lowest speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes, adding some or all of the remaining flour as needed. Cover with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

To shape pretzels: Turn the dough out on a lightly floured board and knead briefly, about 1 minute. Cut the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces. Roll each dough piece out into a 24-inch rope. Make a U shape with the rope. Holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press ends down on the bottom of the U to seal, forming a “pretzel shape.” For small pretzels, cut dough into 24 equal sized pieces. Roll out each dough piece into 12 inches and shape as directed.

Gently place each pretzel on a parchment-lined baking sheet (2 pans). Brush the tops lightly with the egg white mixture. Sprinkle each with 1⁄2 teaspoon of coarse salt, or to taste. Bake in a preheated oven (not convection oven) 14-16 minutes or until browned and firm. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Source: The Berghoff Cafe Cookbook