This lovely recipe turns out some pretty amazing soft pretzels ( which have amazed several people and even won over anti-pretzel heathens.

Step one: make the yeast happy. Get 3/4 cup warm water and 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry yeast (aka 1 package) then add a tablespoon of table sugar. Let the yeast hang out, warm up, feast on the sugar and bloom (about five, ten minutes).

Step two: make the dough. While the yeast is getting happy, add four cups of flour and two teaspoons salt to a mixing bowl. In another container (to add to batter later), add 3/4 cup Guinness and two tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter. Start drinking the rest of the Guinness. With the mixer on low, slowly add the happy yeast to the flour/salt in the mixing bowl, followed by the Guinness/butter mix (also slowly). If necessary, add more flour (a bit at a time) until the dough is no longer sticky and manageable.

Step three: hurry up and wait. Shape the dough into a ball, stick it in a greased bowl (i use Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and flip it so the ball is covered. Cover with a dishcloth, set it in a warm place and wait until it doubles, about an hour (or two hours if “mother dearest” is bogarting the kitchen…).

Step four: rolling boil. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and put a pot with eight cups of water to boiling on stove. Add 1/3 cup of baking soda to the pot of water. Then, with excessive savagery, rip the ball evenly in two pieces. Do the the same thing with each piece… then do it again… At this point, you should have eight pieces of dough roughly the same size. Roll these bad boys out so they’re two feet long. One at a time take each two foot rope and make it look like an u “U”. Cross the two parallel lines of the “U” over, then move the crossed part down until the ends of the “U” touch the bottom of the “U”. (Looks like a pretzel, right? If not, try again with the directions in the recipe linked above.) After you have eight pieces of dough that look like pretzels, add them to the boiling water for about thirty seconds (should be floating by the time it’s done). After you drop the next pretzel in, give the just-boiled pretzel a nice egg was and apply a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

Step five: let ’em burn. Stick the pretzels on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 13 ± 1 minutes.

Step six: masticate. That’s it. Possibly consider letting them cool down a little. Possibly eat them with a pint of Guinness. Possibly dip them in (L[T])Sgt Jess’s Bastardized Buffalo Chicken Dip (gonna have to try that one…)

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Schedule: 14 weeks behind… again… (but at least we’re out of the tree…)