Cheddar Jalapeño Pretzels


3 3/4 - 4 cups bread flour, divided
1 package (1/4 ounce) fast-rising yeast
1 1/2  cups very warm water (120° - 130°F)
1 tablespoon honey
4 - 6 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeños
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup baking soda
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon melted butter, optional


  1. In mixer bowl, combine 2 cups flour and yeast. Stir in water until thoroughly combined. Add honey, jalapeños, salt and cheese. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour until a soft dough forms. Knead dough by hand or with dough hook 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  2. Place dough in oiled bowl turning to coat. Cover with damp towel; let rise until double, about 1 hour. Punch down dough; divide into 12 equal portions; cover with damp towel.
  3. In a shallow glass bowl measure baking soda. Boil 2 cups water. Pour boiling water over baking soda; stir until soda is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Grease or line with parchment paper two 13 x 18-inch baking sheets. Roll dough portions into 2 to 2 1/2-foot lengths about 1/4 to 1/2-inch in diameter (about the size of a pencil). Twist into pretzels by making a circle, bringing ends together, twisting twice and pressing ends onto bottom curve of circle. 
  5. Dip pretzels into baking soda water; place 6 pretzels per baking sheet. Let rise 15 to 20 minutes. 
  6. Bake in preheated 450°F oven 8 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack. If desired, lightly brush pretzel with melted butter. 

Variation: Omit step 3 (soda and water mixture); shape the dough in pretzels, let rise 15 to 20 minutes and bake.

Makes 12 pretzels.

One pretzel provides approximately 208 calories; 8 g protein; 36 g carbohydrate; 1 g dietary fiber; 3 g fat ( 2 g saturated); 10 mg cholesterol;  85 mcg folate; 2 mg iron and 262 mg sodium.