These pretzels will see you putting your dough handling and shaping skills to the test. They have bold tiger stripes, a classic pretzel twist and a distinctive chewy crust, but they’re well worth the effort.
Make the dough. Pour the warm water into a jug and add the yeast, butter and sugar. Stir together and then set aside. Place the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and then combine.
With the stand mixer on low speed, add the water mixture to the flour and salt, a little at a time, until all the flour is incorporated and you have a rough dough.
Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 5 minutes, until soft and smooth.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces and cover with a damp tea towel. Take one piece of dough and add 3 pea-size drops of black food colouring to it. Then, fold the dough up and around the colouring and knead until you achieve an even colour, adding more food colouring if needed. Shape into a ball and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Repeat with the other 2 pieces of dough – colouring one orange and one yellow – until you have 3 balls of coloured dough.
Cut each ball of coloured dough into 4 equal pieces.
To shape the pretzels, take one piece of orange dough, one piece of yellow dough and one piece of black dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll each of these into a 30cm rope. Stack the ropes on top of each other, with the orange rope on the bottom, then the black rope, then the yellow rope, then the orange rope. Twist all three together to make one 30cm striped rope.
Lay the rope in a U-shape with the curve pointing towards you, then take the two ends and cross them over. Lift the ends back towards you and press them firmly into the curve of the U-shape using water to stick them in place. You should have a pretzel shape that measures about 10cm in diameter.
Place the pretzel on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, then shape the remaining pieces of dough in the same way so that you have 4 pretzels altogether.
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.
For the boiling solution, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the bicarbonate of soda and sugar and return to the boil.
Plunge the pretzels, two at a time, into the boiling water. Cook for 30 seconds, then turn over using a slotted spoon, and cook for a further 30 seconds, until the pretzels have puffed and the shape has set. Use the slotted spoon to remove the pretzels and place them on a cooling rack to drain. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
Transfer the pretzels back to the lined baking sheets, sprinkle with sea salt and sesame seeds, then bake for 12–15 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
For the parmesan butter, beat the softened butter with the grated parmesan and paprika. Season with black pepper to taste. Serve the pretzels with the butter for spreading.