Chuck Hughes' yummy Ballpark Pretzels are just as much fun to bake as they are to eat!
Combine the warm water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the dry yeast on top. Let sit until the mixture begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and butter. Next, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until it's well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. (Kneading the dough can also be done by hand.)
Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.
When the dough is ready, lightly flour your working surface and divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope and, holding the ends, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place the pretzels on the baking tray and leave it at room temperature for 1 hour. This dries out the surface and makes them easier to handle.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
In an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan, bring 10 cups water to a boil. Cut the heat and slowly add the baking soda to prevent from overflowing. Bring it back to a boil and add the pretzels to the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula and put it back on the baking tray. This step will create a shiny, brown crunchy pretzel shell.
Beat the egg yolk s with 1 tablespoons water and brush the top of each pretzel. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until dark golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving with the Super Cheesy Sauce.
For the cheesy sauce, in a saucepan over medium heat, bring the beer to a simmer. In a bowl, mix the cheese with the flour. Add the cheese mixture to the beer with the remaining ingredients. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the texture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.
For a different taste, instead of coarse salt, use sesame seeds, poppy seeds, Parmesan or cinnamon sugar. To get the shiny brown crunchy shell, it's important to cook in boiling soda water for 30 seconds. Cooking it too long will make the pretzel too chewy. Also, allow enough time to rise at room temperature, or else they will rise too much in the oven. This sauce is good on anything: broccoli, tacos, burgers... the list is endless!
Recipe courtesy of Chuck Hughes