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Homemade Pretzel Bites

Homemade Pretzel Bites

I grew up outside of Philly which is quite possibly the soft pretzel capitol of the world.  They have entire stores devoted to soft pretzels and during childhood we frequently bought them on the side of the road.  To this day a warm, moist, delicious pretzel brings me back to happy childhood memories.  Lately Marshall and I have been on a bit of a pretzel kick and I was tickled to learn that they’re not hard to make.  This recipe makes about 80 bite size pretzel nubs that your family and friends will rave about.  They’re a big crowd pleaser and make a great appetizer at parties, especially when accompanied by a mustard or cheese dip.

Pretzel Bites

Yields about 80 bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (between 110-115 degrees.  If you don’t have a thermometer, run hot water from your faucet and put your hand underneath.  The right temperature occurs just before the water is uncomfortably warm to touch)
  • 2 teaspoons honey or 1 tablespoon malt syrup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  • Combine the water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top (see directions below if you don’t have a stand mixer).  Let it sit somewhere warm until the yeast proofs (gets foamy), this usually takes about 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour and melted butter and mix on low speed (using the paddle attachment or dough hook) until it’s incorporated.
  • Increase the speed to medium-low and knead for 4-5 minutes until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides.  You may have to stop and scrap the dough down the hook a couple times.
  • Set aside in a warm place and let the dough rise until doubled.  Depending on temperature this takes about an hour.  It helps to cover the bowl with a towel and keep it away from cool drafts.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large spaghetti pot mix 10 cups of water with 1/2 cup of baking soda and bring to a boil.
  • Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a snake roughly 18 inches long.  Cut the snake into about 10 pieces (or whatever size you want).
  • Submerge each piece in the boiling water for about 30 seconds.  It helps to do this in batches of 8 or 10 so they don’t clump together.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the pieces, shake the spoon a couple times to try them a bit and place them on the parchment paper.
  • Make an egg wash by beating the egg in a small bowl.  Brush each pretzel piece with egg and then sprinkle with coarse salt to taste.
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 10-13 minutes until the pieces are rich golden brown.
  • Cool for 5 minutes or so before devouring:)

Notes:

  • If you don’t have a stand mixer you can still make this recipe, it will just take a little elbow grease.  Mix the butter and half of the flour into the yeast mixture using a large spoon.  Then knead the rest of the flour in by hand.  Once the flour is incorporated, continue to knead by hand for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and pretty stretchy.   Then just follow the rest of the recipe as is.
  • Don’t limit yourself to just pretzel bites.  This dough can also be formed into traditional pretzel shapes, rolled into balls (about 16) to form pretzel buns or flattened to make pizza dough.  The bites can also be used as buns to make teeny tiny sandwiches that kids go nuts for!
  • Be creative with your seasonings.  This is an easy recipe to experiment with because it makes so many nubs.  Prior to baking separate the bites into 2 or more groups – leave one group plain and doctor the other groups up.  Examples include a brushing of soy sauce and sesame seeds, cinnamon and raisins, cheese and hot sauce…  Then do a taste test with all of your varieties and learn which combos your family likes best!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/montage_man/4193510808/

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