I've started making homemade pretzels with AP flour, a 50-minute rising time and a lye bath and find the results are consistently a perfect brown color with soft interiors. There are still two areas that need improvement and your help.
1) My crusts are thin and soft. Even after increasing my bake time (at 450) from 15 to 25 minutes, the pretzel darkened without the crust getting any harder. How do I get the crackly crust on the outside (almost like French bread, but not quite), without just burning my pretzels.
2) Bottoms are soggy. I boil pretzels in the lye bath for 15-30 seconds before draining them with a slotted spoon and placing them on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. I've rotated pans between the top half and bottom third racks but the bottoms still seem to retain moisture.
3) Moisture retention in general. The exteriors of the pretzels feel just a bit moist instead of the dry, slick feeling of bakery pretzels. When I store them in an airtight container, the salt ends up melting on the surface overnight.
Any tips on how to improve my results or on how best to store freshly made pretzels?