Soft Pretzel Bites

16 September 2014

With the official Oktoberfest in Munich coming up this Saturday, I figured it appropriate to introduce you to the last soft pretzel recipe you'll ever need.

In true German-American style, we like to load ourselves up on carbs, drink some beer, and eat a healthy variety of stinky foods that our ten-year-old selves wouldn't touch with a stick.  One of our absolute favorites is soft pretzel bites.  The recipe began as a regular soft pretzel recipe with the rolling and the twisting, and if you are bored on a Saturday, knock yourself out...the rolling and the twisting is quite fun.  However, if you are short on time and high on desire for salty, warm-from-the-oven goodness, than skip the twist and chop the dough into bites.

We first made this recipe in the college apartment with the standard sized college apartment kitchen, and we did the rolling and the twisting, and laid everything out on baking pans that were balanced on the back of the couch (because college apartment kitchens just don't come with island counter space and baking centers), waiting to go into the oven (that you could barely squeeze one cookie sheet into on the single rack). Nowadays, we toss the ingredients into the Kitchenaid, forgo the twisting, and toss several trays into the oven at once (score one for being a grown-up!).

Enjoy them any way you like your pretzels...mustard, butter, plain.  We prefer with Beer-Cheese dip, so I'll post that recipe Thursday.  It's worth the wait, I promise!

Soft Pretzel Bites

1/8 cup hot water
1 pkg. active dry yeast ( 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
4-5 cups all purpose flour 

2 Tbsp. baking soda
6 cups water

coarse kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. In a large bowl, or mixer, combine hot water and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Stir/mix in warm water and brown sugar.
4. Slowly add in flour in batches (one cup at a time). The amount you add will depend on humidity and dough texture.  
5. If mixing, let the dough hook knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.  If stirring by hand, mix to combine and then knead the dough on a floured surface.  With either method the resulting dough will be smooth and only slightly sticky.
6. Cut the dough down into 1" strips, and then cut strips down to 1" cubes.*
7. Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray, and generously sprinkle sheets with kosher salt.
8. Heat water and baking soda to a simmer in a skillet.
9. Lower dough balls into simmering water and let cook 30 seconds. Remove from water and place directly on salted pans. Immediately sprinkle wet dough with kosher salt (to your liking).
10. Once each pan is filled with a single layer of dough balls (not touching), bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.
11. Remove from pans right out of oven.

*If you want to make classic twisty pretzels, this would be the point where you pull off a golf ball sized chunk of dough, roll it into a rope and twist it into a pretzel shape (pinching together where the ends attach).  Then you add them to the baking soda water and the rest of the procedure remains the same.

This dough freezes really well, and we often make half the pretzels, and freeze the other half of dough for another day (like the next weekend...cause you're going to want them again that soon).

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