1 and 1/2 cups (300ml) warm water, plus 9 more cups for step 5
1 packet instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
1 Tablespoon (20g) honey
1 Tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
3.75 – 4.25 cups (470 – 530g) all-purpose flour + more for work surface (spoon & leveled)
18–20 cheddar cheese sticks (about 4.5 inches each)*
1/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
coarse sea salt for sprinkling
optional for topping: 4 Tablespoons (60g) melted unsalted butter
1) Whisk the yeast into the 1 and 1/2 cups warm water. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Some clusters of yeast may remain. Add honey, melted butter, and salt. Whisk until fairly combined. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon (or dough hook attached to stand mixer) until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add up to 1/4 cup more. Poke the dough with your finger – if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
2) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes, then shape into a ball. Place in a large greased mixing bowl. I usually use nonstick spray to grease it, but olive oil works too. Cover and let the dough rest in a warm area for about 10 minutes.
3) Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
4) Use a sharp knife to cut off a handful of dough. Roll into an 18-inch log, about 3/4 inch thick. Coil extremely tightly around a cheese stick. You do not want any cheese to be exposed. Pinch to seal the edges. Repeat with the remaining cheese and dough.
5) Combine 9 cups of water with the baking soda in a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a rapid boil. Drop 2-3 pretzel twists into boiling water and let sit for 20 seconds. Remove with a spatula and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Make sure the pretzels aren’t touching.
6) Brush beaten egg over each pretzel. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and brush each pretzel with melted butter. Serve warm.