Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pretzel Day

By now, you must know that everything I do is done on a large scale, especially when it comes to cooking.  For one thing, making a recipe for an average sized family just isn't enough for a family of 8, even when 4 of those are not full sized people.  For another thing, I firmly believe that making a double batch of a labor intensive recipe does NOT double the time you spend on it.  At best, it is only a few extra minutes of assembly time, which saves buckets of time down the road, if you freeze half for later.  I'm a big fan of freezing things for later!

So today I'm going to show you a recent Pretzel Day our family had. Ultimately, I made 2 double batches of dough, and used one batch for pretzels, and one batch for pretzel dogs.  Yummy!  Ingredietns listed below are for a single batch, which will yield 12 pretzels or 12 pretzel dogs.

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons baking soda in 6 cups of water
coarse salt (for pretzels)
hot dogs (for pretzel dogs)

To make pretzels:

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in water.  Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, the oil, and the sugar.  Beat for about 3 minutes to make a smooth batter.

Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour (about 1 cup) to form a soft dough.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and satiny,(about 5 minutes), adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Place dough in a greased bowl; turn over to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).

Punch dough down, turn out onto floured board, and divide into 12 pieces. 

Shape each into a smooth ball by gently kneading.  Then roll each into a smooth rope, about 18 inches long, and twist into a pretzel shape.

Place slightly apart on a greased baking sheet (at least 12 x 15 inches), turning loose ends underneath.  Let rise, uncovered, until puffy (about 25 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a 3-quart stainless steel or enameled pan, bring baking soda/water mixture to boiling; adjust heat to keep water boiling gently.  With a slotted spatula, lower 1 pretzel at a time into the pan.  Let simmer for 10 seconds on each side, then lift from water, drain briefly, and return to baking sheet.

Let dry briefly, then sprinkle with coarse salt, and let stand, uncovered, until all have been simmered.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  Transfer to racks.  Serve warm, or let cool completely, wrap airtight and freeze.  (I freeze them completely, then transfer them to ziptop bags.)  I reheat them in a microwave.

To make pretzel dogs:

Follow the above directions through rolling out an 18 inch long rope.  Then, wrap around a hotdog, keeping wraps close together.  Roll the wrapped dog with your hand on the board a few times to tighten up.

Eliminate the rising time for the pretzels, but simmer the hotdogs as directed above.  Place the hotdogs on a baking sheet.  I line my baking sheets with parchment paper, to eliminate sticking.  I do not sprinkle them with salt.

Bake as above, but for 8 to 10 minutes.  I find that they are usually golden brown by now.  We really like these with mustard.  You could, for a variation, top the pretzel dogs with shredded cheese before baking them.  I haven't tried this yet, but plan on it some day.

You can freeze these as you do the pretzels, and then have a quick and easy lunch for the kids to grab!

(The above recipe for pretzels came from the Sunset Breads cookbook, printed in 1991.  I devised the use of the dough for pretzel dogs after seeing how much the local pretzel shop wanted for one!)

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