Start to finish: 1 hour 55 minutes (Active time: 25 minutes)
2 cups bread flour
11/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 cup warm (but not hot) water
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon honey
21/4 teaspoons salt
4 cups water
3 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse sea salt, as needed for sprinkling
To make the dough, in a small bowl, mix together the flour and yeast.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water, butter, honey, and salt. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the ingredients are combined, about 1 minute. Raise the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 4 equal pieces. Use both hands to roll each piece of dough against the counter into a short log. Place the logs on the counter, loosely cover all of the pieces with plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Roll each piece of dough under your palms until it is 30 inches long and tapered so that the center is slightly thicker than the ends.
Hold the two ends of the dough in your hands and cross them over each other, to form an X, with the thicker center of the dough at the bottom. Twist the ends again and then bring the two ends down and press each end into the bottom of the pretzel, leaving about 2 inches in between. Press gently to seal the dough.
Transfer the pretzels to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature until the pretzels have doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F.
Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator until the dough forms a skin, about 10 minutes.
To make the dipping solution, while the dough is in the refrigerator, combine the water and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved.
Dip each pretzel in the dipping solution and return to the baking sheet. Sprinkle the pretzels with the salt while they are still wet.
Bake the pretzels until they are dark golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 135 calories; 12 calories from fat; 1 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 1526 mg sodium; 26 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 4 g protein.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.