These soft pretzel bites rounded out the snack food menu for our Dogfish Head Beer Tasting party. The recipe made quite a bit, and I thought for sure we would have leftovers… but apparently people really enjoyed them, because by the end of the night they were gone! The perfect food to soak up all that beer, I guess :) These would make a great addition to any party menu, particularly sports-themed gatherings: March Madness, football season, the Superbowl, etc. They require a little planning as far as your schedule, as they do involve a few steps- an hour rise, shaping, boiling and then baking- but none of the steps in and of themselves are particularly difficult. We served these with a variety of mustard, but a homemade cheese sauce would be great, as would some cinnamon-sugar for a sweet take on them.
For the dough:
- 1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
- 22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- Olive or vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
- Pretzel salt (I used coarse sea salt, which worked fine)
To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Allow this mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy. (If using instant yeast, no need to allow the yeast to proof before proceeding.) Add in the flour and melted butter and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with olive or vegetable oil, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place, about 50 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Near the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large stockpot. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate it. Divide the dough into 6 approximately equal portions. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out into a long rope about 1-inch in diameter. You may need to allow the roped dough to rest for 10 minutes or so if it keeps springing back; this will allow the gluten to relax. Use a pizza cutter to cut the rope into small segments, about 1 inch in length. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the pretzel bites into the boiling water a handful at a time, making sure not to crowd them. Boil each batch for about 30 seconds, stirring gently once or twice to submerge all surfaces in the water. Remove the bites from the water with a slotted skimmer and spread out on the prepared baking sheets. Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 9-11 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with dipping sauces as desired.