Friday, June 24, 2011

Soft Pretzels or Pretzel Dogs

I have a confession. I have an addiction to gas station deli counters. I know, that's so, so not gourmet or even a little bit healthy. I can't help it. I love their pigs in a blanket. Something about the bread just sucks me in every time. I prefer them with sausages but hey, a hot dog will do in a pinch. I also like soft pretzels from the mall. I used to work for an insurance company that had their offices in the mall. I would wander to the food court almost every day for my morning break to watch them make the pretzels and get one of the first pretzels of the day. Today I decided to combine my two loves for lunch. It. was. awesome.

I've fiddled with soft pretzel recipe combinations for a few years now. I made my first one for a youth activity and was hooked. I have found that I prefer them cooked on a stone rather than a baking sheet. I prefer brown sugar in the dough as opposed to granulated sugar and that it's pretty hard to ruin a pretzel as long as you have cinnamon sugar and cream cheese frosting to dip them in. That said we focused on the savory today.

This recipe makes enough dough for 12 good sized pretzels so I did 8 dogs and the rest we just cut into chunks to dip in mustard. (If you are twist challenged this is a zero risk variation on the pretzel theme). So YUM!~

Soft Pretzels or Pretzel Dogs if you prefer....
12 Pretzels

2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 heaping T. brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
4 c. flour
Melted butter
Coarse Salt (we like sea salt)

2 heaping T. baking soda
2 c. water

1. In your mixer dissolve yeast, brown sugar and salt in warm water. Let yeast bloom for a few minutes.
2. Mix in flour. If you are kneading by hand mix with wooden spoon until a cohesive dough ball forms then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 7-8 minutes. If you are using your mixer just let it go until it's smooth and has completely cleaned the sides of the mixing bowl. Cover and let rise for about an hour.
3. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces. Let dough rest for a few minutes. Roll each piece of dough into a 2 foot long rope.
4. Twist into pretzel shape or cut into nuggets if doing only pretzels. Twist each rope around a hot dog or sausage making sure to seal the ends of the ropes securely.
5. In a large saucepan bring the brine mixture to a simmer over med heat.
6. Dip each pretzel or pretzel dog in the brine for approx 30 seconds. Place on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Let rise for 20 min.
7. Bake at 450 for 9ish minutes or until golden brown. Nuggets will take a little less time, watch them fairly closely so they don't burn. Seriously, go by smell I'm a terrible timer.
8. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt or whatever topping you prefer.

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