For the Sponge:
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- One .25 ounce packet yeast
- 8 ounces high gluten flour (bread flour is fine)
For the Dough:
- 1 pound high gluten flour (bread flour is fine)
- 1/2 ounce light brown sugar
- 1/4 ounce salt
- 1 ounce unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
For Boiling Pretzels:
- 6 cups water
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Kosher salt or coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
- Beer and Cheese Dip, for serving
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the water, molasses and yeast until dissolved, then whisk in the 8 ounces of flour. This is the sponge. Cover and set aside in a warm, draftfree space until doubled in size and very bubbly, about 1 hour.
Transfer the sponge to the bowl of a standing mixer and add the 1 pound flour, brown sugar, and salt. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and mix on speed 1 until the ingredients come together to form a dough, about 1 minute. Let rest 5 minutes.
Add the butter to the mixer and mix on speed 1 until the butter is incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the speed to 2 and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, 7 to 8 minutes. Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm, draftfree place until the dough has doubled in size, 30 minutes or longer.
Transfer the dough to a counter and portion dough into 2 ounce pieces.
Flatten each piece, then roll up to form "snakes" of dough about 6 inches long and pointed at both ends.
Trransfer the dough pieces to two large baking pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Spray the dough lightly with nonstick spray as well, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside until the pretzels have doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Combine the water, baking soda, and brown sugar in a wide, shallow saucepan and bring to a boil. Dip each piece of dough into the solution for 10 seconds on each side. Transfer to a wire rack to drain.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the pretzels back on the baking sheet, spacing them about 2-inches apart. Score the pretzel dough with 2 or 3 shallow cuts on a diagonal using a lame, a razor blade, or a very sharp knife. Sprinkle the pretzels with salt.
Bake until the pretzel sticks are deep golden brown, usually 10 to 14 minutes.
Serve warm, with the cheese sauce for dipping.
The Ultimate Cheese Dip: Cheesy Beer
Beer & Cheese Dip
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