Thursday, March 21, 2013

Soft Pretzel Bites {Baking with Sisters, Part 5}

One of the things my sisters and I love to do together is shop. We all have different shopping styles. Jewel and Janell tend to be zippy shoppers, casing the store in a matter of minutes and assessing the merchandise instantly, spending the rest of the time waiting on a bench outside sipping lattes. I take a little more time, not wanting to miss any item on a sale rack, touching all the pretty fabric I know I can't afford, and stockpiling "maybes"- leery of having to take more than one trip to the fitting room. Jessica is a champion browser, circling the store numerous times to be sure nothing has escaped her notice and deliberating over the question of "to buy or not to buy." Although our styles of shopping differ greatly, there is one thing we always agree on when we make trips to the mall.

Pretzels. There's nothing quite like the aroma of a soft, buttery pretzel after the "hard work" of shopping. Or sometimes it's just the fuel you need to get you in "the zone." Whether enjoyed before, after or during the shopping trip, a mall pretzel is a necessary addition to any girl's day out!

However, this time around, we didn't end up having the time to make the hour-long trek to Spokane for our shopping day, so we decided the pretzels would come to us- in the form of homemade soft pretzel bites!

Teamwork made the task easy and fun and the end result was a delicious pile of warm, chewy, buttery, salty bites of pretzely goodness!

Once the dough was made, Jewel scooped spoonfuls of the bites into boiling baking soda water.

Janell slathered melted butter on the bathed bites and Jessica sprinkled them with Kosher salt.

Then into the oven they went! When they came out we slathered on a little more melted butter for good measure and popped them into our waiting mouths- so delicious! They were the perfect snack to go with an afternoon of Downton Abbey and a hair curling party!!

*Note: we tried dipping our bites in melted Velveeta, but it didn't work so well, so please follow the link to "Smells Like Home" to find a recipe for a homemade cheese dipping sauce!

Soft Pretzel Bites
(printable version)
makes a lot!

1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 TB sugar
2 tsp Kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
approx. 4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
10 cups water (plus more)
2/3 cup baking soda (plus more)
2 TB butter, melted
more salt (for sprinkling)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix water, sugar, salt and yeast on low speed for 10 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and add the butter and flour. Mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. If necessary to prevent sticking, add more flour 1 TB at a time. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and transfer to a well-oiled bowl. Turn dough to coat. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 50-55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425. Grease 2 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a wide saucepan.
In the meantime, turn the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 24 in. rope. Slice each rope into 1 in. pieces. Place a slightly damp towel over pretzel pieces to prevent them from drying out while you cut the other pieces.
Using a slotted spoon, lower a handful of the pretzel pieces into the water and boil them for about 30 sec., flipping them around in the water with the spoon a couple of times. Remove the pieces from the water with the spoon and drain them on towels as best you can. Place them on the baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, adding more water and a pinch or so more of baking soda as needed (some of the water will boil away as you work).
Brush the top of each pretzel with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake until dark golden brown, approx. 10-12 min. Brush with remaining butter before serving. Serve warm.

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