Out of the Ballpark! Pretzels

1 1/4 C. lukewarm water
1 t. sugar
1 T. active dry yeast
1 1/2 t. salt
4 C. flour
1 T. olive oil
4 t. baking soda
1 quart water
1 egg, beaten with 2 t. water
Kosher salt, to taste

Combine water, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl; set in a warm spot. After 15 minutes, it should begin to foam and bubble. Add the salt and half the flour; mix well with a wooden spoon.

Turn dough onto a floured surface; gradually knead in the remaining flour to form a smooth dough. Knead for 5 minutes; transfer to an oiled bowl and coat evenly with oil. Cover bowl with a towel; set in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F. Punch dough down and roll into a log. Divide evenly into 12 pieces; roll each into a 16- to 18-inch rope. Shape pretzels into dollar signs or bats, or form a traditional pretzel by tying dough into a knot and pinching ends across loops.

Combine baking soda and water in a saucepan and boil. Lower each pretzel in boiling water until it floats, about 30 seconds. Drain; transfer to a greased baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture; sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Cover pretzels with a cloth and let rise again for 5 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot with mustard.


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