I wish I had a photograph of these wonders when they came out of the oven, because they were awesome! Alas, they were all scarfed up so quickly that I didn't have time to get out my camera. I promise to take photos during the process next time, as the directions would seem much simpler with the aid of some pretty pictures.
This recipe works great with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. If you don't have a stand mixer, not a problem...you'll just get a bit of a work-out with your pretzels.
1 1/2 c. warm water (I run my tap until the water feels hot to touch. I'm sure there is a more scientific method, but this method seems to work well for me.)
1 1/8 t. active dry yeast (I buy the little bottle and measure it out myself...it's more economical this way)
2 T. brown sugar
1 1/8 t. salt
1 c. bread flour
3 c. all-purpose flour (I use the unbleached kind...I say, why use extra chemicals just to have really white bread as opposed to almost-white bread?)
3 T. butter
2 t. sugar
kosher salt (a/k/a coarse salt)
Pour the warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer with the regular beater attachment on it for now until you have everything stirred together. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a regular bowl and a big spoon. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, and stir it to dissolve the yeast in the water. At this point, you might be wondering how you will know if your yeast is still good if you can't seem to remember when you purchased it. If you would like to test it out, wait 3 to 5 minutes for bubbles to form. Bubbles = good yeast. No bubbles = throw it out and head to the grocery store for some new yeast.
Add the 2 T. of brown sugar and the 1 1/8 t. salt and give it another stir to dissolve these items. Mix in the 1 c. bread flour and the 3 c. regular flour until the flour is incorporated into the liquids. Change out the beater attachment for the dough hook, turn it on medium to medium-low, and let it run for about 7 minutes. You can add a bit more flour if it seems to be sticking to the sides of the mixer.
If you don't have the aid of a stand mixer, dump the dough mess onto your counter (cleaned, of course) with some extra flour. Knead the dough by pushing the heels of your hands into the dough, grabbing the dough that you've just pushed away from you, and pulling it up and over the area that you were previously pushing. After each push, turn the dough mess a bit and push again with the heels of your hand, repeating the process. Don't worry about doing it exactly right; the whole point is to keep pushing and pulling the dough until your hands and wrists hurt.
After abusing the dough for 5 to 10 minutes, cover it with a clean towel and let it rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and spray a baking sheet or two down with cooking spray. Just before you begin rolling out the pretzels, mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with a cup or two of hot water in a shallow pan (I use a casserole dish). Mix them up to dissolve the baking soda. The pretzels will be dipped into this prior to setting them on the baking sheet to bake.
Cut off a piece of dough with a scraper or a butter knife, and roll it out Auntie-Anne style using the palms of your hands. This process is a bit easier if the dough is a bit sticky. If you need to sticky-it up, dip your fingers into the baking soda mixture prior to rolling. When the dough is about 1/2 inch in diameter, form it into a pretzel shape and dip it into the baking soda mixture. Place onto the baking sheet and continue forming pretzels. Bake the pretzels at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
Melt the 3 T. butter with the 2 t. sugar and mix together to dissolve the sugar. When the pretzels are golden brown, pull them out of the oven and brush them with the butter/sugar mixture. Sprinkle them with kosher salt and enjoy!