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German Soft Pretzels

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Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 to 3 cups flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 tablespoons baking soda in 6 cups water
coarse salt

Directions:

In a bowl , dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1 cups of the flour, oil, and sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes to make a smooth batter. Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and satiny (about 5 minutes), adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 hour).

Punch down dough, turn out onto a floured board, and divide into 12 pieces. Shape each into a smooth ball by gently kneading. Then roll each piece into a smooth rope about 18-inches long, and twist into a pretzel shape. Place slightly apart on a greased baking sheet turning loose ends underneath. Let rise, uncovered, until puffy (about 25 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a 3-quart stainless steel or enameled pot (not aluminum) bring soda water to a boil; adjust heat to keep water boiling gently. With a slotted spatula, lower 1 pretzel at a time into the boiling soda water. Let simmer for 10 seconds on each side, then lift from water, draining briefly on spatula, and return to baking sheet. Let dry briefly, then sprinkle with coarse salt and let stand uncovered, until all have simmered.

Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to racks; serve warm with butter, mustard or cream cheese.

To store pretzels, let cool completely, wrap airtight, and freeze. To reheat, place frozen on ungreased baking sheets and bake in a preheated 400 oven for about 10 minutes or until hot.

Makes 1 dozen pretzels

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