Kramer honestly made these all by himself. I can take no credit for them. He even took all of the photos himself. He’s quite the burgeoning food blogger, isn’t he? I’m quite proud of him. As I’ve said before, he is the bread maker in our household. I don’t have the patience required for it except on rare occasions, while he loves playing with dough. To that, I say, good for him! That only means more bread for me. I even recently bought him Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman on commenter Juliana M.’s suggestion. He loved it, and on Sunday, after I got out of the shower, he was sitting on our sunny balcony, reading it! I hope that means that we’re going to be having even more warm, homemade bread laying around our apartment soon!
Kramer and I are truly pretzel fiends, so we figured what better way to satisfy our pretzel cravings than by making some soft pretzel bites? The end product was delightful – light, slightly chewy, and with a nice crust on the outside. I personally liked to dip these in a nice spicy mustard, while Kramer preferred to dip his in dijon. They were quite a hit at our Oscar Party in February, and I cannot wait to make them again. The only thing is that they don’t keep very well past 24 hours or so, so they really should be eaten the day of. If you are like us, though, and don’t have time to make 50 pretzel bites the day of your party or gathering, be sure to let them sit out – don’t put them in an air-tight container, like we did, or else they will become sort of soggy. We fixed this by letting them sit out for 5 or 6 hours the day of our party so that they “dried out” a bit. Oh well, lesson learned! They were still delicious and I really couldn’t get enough of them.
- 1½ cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (this is usually 1 packet, but double check to be sure)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 4½ to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- vegetable or olive oil (for oiling your bowl)
- 3 quarts water
- ¾ cup baking soda
- 1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
- Coarse sea salt or fleur de sel (we used kosher salt and it worked well)
- To make the pretzels, combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a food processor and beat or pulse until well incorporated. Afterward, allow it to stand for about 5 minutes. If you are using a food processor, great, but if you are using a stand mixer, use your dough hook, then add in the salt and 4½ cups of flour, then mix or pulse on low speed until combined. Bring the speed up to medium and continue kneading or pulsing 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, you can add more flour a 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl or processor, place on a flat, lightly floured surface, and knead into a ball with your hands.
- Lightly oil a large bowl with vegetable oil or olive oil, then add the dough and turn it to coat with the oil. Cover it with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour. We placed ours on our windowsill in the sunlight – it was only about 40 degrees F that day, though.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a flat, lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4¼ to 4½ ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope that is about 22 inches long. Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces, then cover and allow to rise again for another 20-30 minutes.
- When the dough has risen again, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add in the baking soda. Now you can boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches – don’t overcrowd the pot – 10-15 pretzels at a time is a good number. Boil for about 30 seconds, then remove the pretzels with a large, slotted spoon or spatula. Place pretzel bites on a lightly greased baking sheet, being sure that they are not touching one another. Brush the tops with the egg and water mixture and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Place the pretzels in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. These are great fresh from the oven or room temperature. Serve with some nice mustard and enjoy!