Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What's Cookin' Wednesday - Pretzel Bites

I saw this idea on Pinterest and it originated from the blog, Fake Ginger.
So, I decided to give it a try...

Don't you love my flour canister? I bought the can at Ikea, and then added vinyl lettering and a scoop from The Container Store. Last year, my new year's resolution was to learn to bake good bread. Check. This year, my new year's resolution was to lose the extra weight I gained from all that good bread. No check :( But, I have a couple of months left of this year! ;)

I gathered the ingredients and got to work. Okay, so I had to go across the street and borrow some flour from my neighbor, Allison, because I was almost out! But, after that, I got to work.

I got out my kitchen aide (love it!) stand mixer and attached the dough hook.

My trusty assistants put on some music and began to dance. However, note that dancing is not required for the success of the recipe!

Here is what the dough looked like after it is mixed up and ready to rise.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise.

Whoa, Nelly. It rose!

Prepare your baking sheets. I only have one baking sheet because I always use my pampered chef baking stone for baking. So, I prepared them both. (note - I couldn't tell any difference in the results from either one)

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 425 degrees and put your pot of water on to boil. Now, the original recipe wasn't very specific about when you add the baking soda - before or after the water boils. It might not have been specific because she assumed everyone would know what would happen if you let your water boil first.

I did not know exactly what kind of chemical reaction would happen when you add baking soda to boiling water. I do now. Oh boy, do I ever.

Holy Baking Soda Mess! I had something of a geyser going on in my kitchen, and had a huge mess to clean up. I am not totally sure that my gas stove igniter is going to work again. ever. My advice to you is to be sure and put your baking soda in with the water and let them boil together. I kept thinking that I bet this has never happened to The Pioneer Woman and I guess I have blown my chance at having my own show on the Food Network!!

Next, divide the dough into 8 pieces. This is a very elastic dough, so it isn't necessary to flour your surface for this part.

Roll out your dough into a strip that is approximately 22 inches long. I did not get out a ruler, just eyeball it!

Now, you need to cut your strip into approximately one inch long pieces. I used a pair of kitchen shears to make this super quick.

You will end up with a TON of pieces. I don't know the exact yield of this recipe, because as soon as they came out of the oven, we started to eat them!

After I cleaned up the HUGE mess and started a new pot of boiling water, I got back to cooking. I placed the dough pieces into the boiling water about a dozen at a time, for about 30 seconds.

Using a big slotted spoon, I removed the dough pieces and placed them on my baking stone/sheet, making sure they didn't touch. I brushed each piece with an egg wash, and liberally sprinkled them with salt.

Here they are, ready to go into the oven. They bake for about 15 minutes.

And, here they are, out of the oven. They turn a really wonderful golden brown.

I put aside a dozen for my neighbor who donated the flour!

And the rest, I am having to hide so the children don't eat them all!

Verdict: YUMMO! with a double Yum!

Pretzel Bites

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled just slightly
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
coarse sea salt

On low speed, mix the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and 4 1/2 cups of the flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Spray a bowl with cooking spray (or oil with vegetable oil), add the dough and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Spray two baking sheets liberally with cooking spray.

Bring the water and the baking soda to a boil over high heat.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring about 22 inches. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches of about 10-15 for 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon and place the pretzel bites on the prepared baking sheets, making sure they aren’t touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove to a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. (I can promise you that other than burning your mouth, there is no penalty for not waiting the full 5 minutes)

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