You know the chewy texture and distinctive "street vendor pretzel" flavor you get in those soft, chewy pretzels bought hot from a charcoal-grill pushcart in the city?
Sure you do. Maybe it's the grimy pavements, the diesel fumes, the clash and clatter of metal grates and loading gates. But whatever the reason, there's something about a mustard-slathered metro-pretzel on a frigid morning that soothes the soul.
Guess what? You don't have to travel to Manhattan (NY, not Kansas) or Philly to enjoy this culinary experience. In fact, when you make these "pretzel bites" at home, you can enjoy their signature flavor and texture – without the racket. And the traffic. And the $3 price tag.
Better yet, even though these are yeast pretzels, you can have them made, start to finish, in little more than an hour. Now THAT'S life in the fast lane!
Getting ready for a Super Bowl party next weekend? Hike yourself into the kitchen, huddle up with your ingredients, and score a touchdown with these chewy, butter-basted Pretzel Bites.
Combine the following in a mixing bowl:
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water*
*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.
Beat everything until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or electric mixer, for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and quite slack.
Flour the dough and place it in a bag; close the top of the bag. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. It won't rise a whole lot, but will spread out, as shown in the pictures above.
Want to make this dough in your bread machine? Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.
While the dough is resting, prepare the "soak." Combine 1 cup boiling water and 2 tablespoons baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into six equal pieces.
Roll the six pieces of dough into 12" to 15" ropes; a very lightly greased silicone rolling mat is handy here, as it provides just the right "traction" for rolling: not so much the dough sticks, but not so little it slips.
Cut each rope crosswise into about 12 pieces. A pair of scissors works well here.
Pour the water/soda solution into a 9" x 13" pan, add the pretzel bites, and slosh them around so the solution washes over them; don't worry, they don't need to be totally covered by the solution. Let them soak for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
Transfer the bites to the prepared baking sheet, and top with pretzel salt or sea salt; or with pearl sugar, for sweet pretzel bites.
Bake the bites for 12 to 15 minutes, until they're golden brown.
Remove them from the oven, and roll them in 6 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle any sweet bites with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Serve immediately.
If you don't plan on serving the bites until later, let them cool on a rack (or right on the pan), then store in a plastic bag at room temperature. Want to freeze them? Go right ahead.
Just before serving, warm the room-temperature bites briefly in a 350°F oven; about 8 minutes should do. Roll them in melted butter, and serve.
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