Pretzel Bites

Memorial Day Weekend – BBQ’s, summer, pool, sunshine, all sorts of things come to mind. For me, spending the weekend upstate means baking! Baking in my uncle’s kitchen is the best place – it has tons of work space, a nice big oven, and during a family vacation weekend, there are always enough people to sample my goods.

I’ve wanted to make pretzels for a long time. I always thought that to make big fluffy pretzels, one needed lye. What I discovered though, is a) lye is very dangerous for the home cook and b) a simple mixture of baking soda and water is the perfect replacement for lye, which makes the salt stick to the pretzels. After realizing I didn’t need to use lye, my plans of making pretzels seems much more in grasp than I had imagined.

If you like warm fluffy dough, these are for you. In all honesty, are not all that interesting, but with a sprinkle of salt and a bowl of mustard to accompany, these are a perfect afternoon snack. I made two full plates of these, and they were all finished long before dinner. If you wanted to make actual big fluffy pretzels, like the ones you buy from a street vendor, as opposed to just bites, this recipe could easily still be used, just increasing the bake time a few minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on these little guys once they get in the oven, because they’ll burn quickly if left in too long.

PRETZEL BITES

(Adapted from Let’s Dish)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant (or rapid rise) yeast
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • Coarse salt (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

1) In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and 2 1/4 cups flour. Mix to just combine. Add the water and mix well, adding remaining flour, as needed, a bit at a time to form a soft, smooth dough that clears the sides and bottom of the bowl.

2) Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth and quite slack. Lightly oil the dough and place it in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap.  Let it rise for 40-60 minutes.

3) Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

4) Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or lightly greasing them.

5) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into about four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, about 1 inch in diameter.  Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

6) While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda in a liquid measuring cup (deep enough to dip the pretzel bites into). Stir until the baking soda is dissolved.

7) Cut each strip of dough into pieces, 1 to 1 1/2 inches in long.  Dip each pretzel bite in the baking soda solution and place them on the baking sheets. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

8 ) Bake one sheet at a time for 5-7 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. If desired, sprinkle with coarse salt.  Pretzels can be reheated in the oven or microwave on low heat.

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