The children have been studying the solar system and what better way to reinforce their work than to make planet pretzels for snacking!?
1/2 cup baking soda
2 quarts water
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in the lukewarm water & set aside. Mix flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Form a well in the flour mixture then add the sugar to the center of the well. Pour the yeast/water mixture into the well. Let it rest for 15 minutes before mixing.
Add the softened butter to the mixing bowl and knead everything to smooth dough about 10 minutes. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into twelve equal parts, then roll each piece on the table (don't flour the surface, you shouldn't need it) to about 20 inches, tapered toward the ends.
To form the pretzel shape, place dough rope on parchment lined cookie sheet so that it creates the shape of the letter “O”. Then add another strip of dough rope around and across the front to look like the planet Saturn.
Place the pretzels without covering them in the fridge for about an hour. This helps build a skin that will absorb the dipping solution better and make a beautiful shiny crust.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Fill large stock or pasta pot 3/4 full and bring the water to a boil. Carefully and slowly add the baking soda to the boiling water. There will be a reaction when the baking soda hits the water and it will bubble furiously for a moment and then relax. Stand back a bit just to be safe. Using a slotted spoon, gently drop each pretzel into the bath for 10 seconds, and then turn over for another 10. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Score the dough once like for a baguette with a sharp knife.
Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake the pretzels for about 15 to 20, depending on how dark you like them.