Pretzel Rods from 'Classic Snacks Made from Scratch'

[Photograph: Judi Swinks]

Is there any snacker on earth who doesn't like pretzels? Their malty, subtle sweetness, generous crunch, and potent salt coating make for an easy-to-love snack that never really grows old. In Casey Barber's Classic Snacks Made from Scratch, the hard pretzels are a classic take on the form. No sourdough starter or fancy flours here, just good old yeast, brown sugar, and baking soda. Okay, actually there is one trick: To make the boiling mixture more alkaline without resorting to lye, Barber calls for a concentrated "baked soda." This, however, is easy to make. Simply pour out a box of baking soda onto an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and send it into a 250-degree oven for about an hour. Voila! Baked soda.

Why I picked this recipe: Hard pretzels have always been a go-to snack in my arsenal—I blame my salt-tooth.

What worked: Between the baked soda and the brown sugar, the malty flavor of these pretzels was totally on-point.

What didn't: In a 375 degree oven, my pretzels turned golden brown long before they became completely crisp. Next time, I'll lower the oven temperature to 350 or even 325 and bake them an extra 20 minutes or so to ensure they turn into crunchy logs before burning.

Suggested tweaks: The long longs can be a bit cumbersome, especially if your boiling pot is relatively narrow. Cutting the logs into bites would ease that difficulty.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Classic Snacks Made from Scratch to give away this week.