Monday, August 12, 2013

Soft Pretzel Bites

In another example of my BYOI rule while on vacation at the beach house, Pat requested soft pretzels. He tried one of the pretzels I had made the day I also made the pretzel dogs and had been craving more since then.  I will admit that I put off making them for him until his very last day at vacation.  Our week together was a nonstop heatwave; the thought of not only turning on the oven to 450 degrees but also having to boil the dough was just too much.  I literally thought there was a chance I'd overheat and die, because I think I came pretty close making dinner the other nights.  But finally I could put it off no longer, and I sucked it up and made Pat some soft pretzel bites.

I decided bites were a better idea than whole pretzels since we had such a crowd in the house and we'd get more for our buck.  I also decided to double the recipe.  This meant lots and lots of rolling, slicing, boiling and baking, but of course they were worth it.  I've never met a soft pretzel that I didn't like.  And 100% of them were gone within an hour or so, so I guess we can assume they were enjoyed by all!

The great part about this recipe is that Annie has listed three different ways to enjoy pretzel bites; you can make the regular ones like I did, or use the same dough to make a cinnamon-sugar variation or a garlic herb.  She also lists two different dipping sauces, chocolate and cheddar (respectively, obviously!).  I only made the regular ones; to be honest, I had planned on making the cinnamon-sugar ones with the second batch of dough, but when the first batch was eaten immediately after they came out of the oven, I figured I wouldn't even have time to mix up the cinnamon and sugar :)  Since I only did the regular version, I am only going to post those instructions here, but please feel free to visit Annie's Eats to get the (simple) ingredients to make either variation or sauce.


soft pretzel bites
from Annie's Eats
yield 12-16 servings

basic pretzel dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
22 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl
to finish:
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
pretzel or kosher salt


1) Combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast. Add in the flour and the melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the side of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

2) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bring the water and the baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate it.  Divide it up into approximately 6 equal portions.  Working with one piece at at time, roll the dough out into a long rope about 1 inch in diameter.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the row into small segments, no longer than 1 inch each.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

3) Place the pretzel bites into the boiling water in batches so that they aren't overcrowded.  Boil each batch for about 30 seconds, stirring once or twice to submerge all surfaces in the water.  Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and spread out on the prepared baking sheets.  Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 9-11 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with mustard.

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