Pretzels, Pretzels Everywhere!

Today it was pretty difficult to get up and get moving. I’ve been in a down and out funk, some anxiety here, some stress there… Lots of what if’s running through my mind. So I read for a little bit until my boy kept looking at me, hinting how French toast sounded amazing and his stomach was rumbling.

Reluctantly I got off the couch, surveyed the messy kitchen and got to work. One dishwasher load later, it felt clean enough to cook. My boy despite not being a verbose one, always finds the few words of comfort I need. He’s a keeper. French toast was made, enjoyed then set aside as I was sufficiently motivated to experiment.

In fact, I followed the whole scientific method. There was a control (a delicious salty control) and of course the experiment. I’m happy to report that with the addition of 2 ingredients and skipping of one step created amazing, better than the ones at the mall cinnamon sugar pretzel bites.

You have to understand, I’ve long loved pretzels. When I worked at Sears years ago I’d go to the Wetzel’s Pretzels for a snack at break time most days (they gave mall employees a discount!). I’ve been known to keep a bag of pretzel sticks by my computer and munch on them over the course of a week.

With all that in mind, when I found this recipe for easy and awesome pretzel bites I immediately had to try them. In my many hours of using StumbleUpon there have been several recipes pop up, but this one from Mel’s Kitchen is by far my favorite. Here it is:

 

Better Than the Mall Pretzel Bites

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 tbsp if using active dry yeast, dissolve in the water and let sit for about 5min)
1 cup very warm water

Add 1 tsp cinnamon for sweet pretzels

For later:

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt (regular) or cinnamon sugar (sweet)
3 tablespoons butter, melted (more is ok ;)

Combine the dry ingredients well and incorporate the water. It will come together in a soft dough, you may need to add additional flour to get it past the really sticky stage and into the only slightly sticky stage. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes so that it’s smooth and soft. Flour a 1 gallon ziptop bag, place the dough inside to rise in a warm place for 30 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500* (super hot, but trust me it’s how it needs to be done!) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can lightly grease it but under the high heat I prefer parchment to anything else. Plus it makes clean up that much easier. Turn out the dough and separate into 4 roughly equal amounts. Gently roll each section into a rope and cut into about 1 inch pieces. The size is really up to you, smaller bites, bigger ones, doesn’t ultimately matter.

Mix the baking soda into the water (it doesn’t like to stay mixed, keep a fork in there to quickly stir between each bit). Dunk in each piece and place on the baking sheet. They can be relatively close as they won’t expand much. At this point, if you’re doing regular pretzels then add some salt onto those puppies. Oh yeah. If you’re doing sweet ones, let them go in naked.

Take your time with it too, the longer they sit out the fluffier they can get. When ready, bake for 8 to 10 minutes, but watch them toward the end to make sure they don’t burn. You want them a perfect golden brown. Have the butter melted and waiting, believe me you do not want to skip the buttering step. It puts them over the edge.

Fresh out of the oven brush those babies with butter until it’s all gone. If you’re doing the sweet version, roll them in cinnamon sugar after the butter soaking. Yield about 2 dozen.

I recommend keeping them on the smaller side for the cinnamon sugar pretzels. You can serve with mustard, plain or however you eat your pretzels. Make a quick glaze with ½ cup milk, 1 ½ cup powdered sugar and a dash vanilla extract for a sweet dunking experience. Adjust the amount of sugar for thicker or thinner glaze. Honey would be a good choice too!

Well, go bake up these babies. You won’t regret it.

I actually baked these twice this past week as snacks while we played LA Noire. We finished the game today actually, it’s quite a ride to the end. The overall story that’s being slowly built up throughout the entire game gets a nice big finish. Definitely enjoyable and we’re likely going to go back to discover landmarks, secret cars etc. I’d say it’s worth the money to play this innovative, well constructed game.

Hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

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