Monday, February 28, 2011

Pretzel Bites

Due to my recent tragedies with yeast, I have taken a much needed hiatus from the production of all things yeast:  breads, rolls, loaves and the like.  I was wounded by all of my yeast failures.  I have no idea what the problem is really.  My yeast products are not turning out correctly.  Maybe its the type of yeast I am using? Is it due to the fact I am trying to substitute one type of yeast when the recipe calls for another? Am I over-kneading?  I may never know.  Thank God for Wal-mart brand flour being so cost effective lol.  It allows me to continue to screw things up haha!

Yesterday, I decided to go ahead and try my hand at the Pretzel Bites from Mels Kitchen Cafe.  She posted these a while back but I was honestly still too traumatized from my French Bread disaster that I wasn't emotionally prepared.

Let me go way out in left field for a moment here.  Being emotionally prepared is a big phrase and it is very important for some major things in life.  Like pap smears and mammograms.  Also for skin biopsies of the scalp which I discussed here.  Being emotionally ready means you need to totally psych yourself out for the impending shocker.  I think the previous three examples qualify don't you?  So does baking with yeast!

If you are still reading...guess what?  I DID IT!  LOL

Admittedly, these are a skosh too dark.  But I swear at 6 minutes they had white on them and at 6 minutes and 30 seconds they looked like this!  These could have used more butter, possibly even dunking them in melted butter rather than brushing on the tops.  They were a tad bland.  Although, could this be because of the type of yeast I used?  Not enough salt in the actual dough? See I need a yeast master people....a Mr. Miyagi of the yeast kingdom to teach me, his grasshopper, what the hell I am doing wrong! Other than being a bit bland they were also lacking that chewy factor.  So picture this:  If you bite one in half, the remaining bit should be stuck together - thats what I mean by "chewy" factor.  Mine didn't have that.  Again, it could be the yeast, a tad over baked or a tad over-kneaded.  

Lets get to the good stuff, because there is plenty of that.  These things are a CINCH!  Gosh I love my KitchenAid Stand Mixer!  I did not follow the directions as far as how to cut into the bite sized pieces.  I really didn't want to roll and over work the dough. I was being thoughtful to the dough ok?  I just made, what I considered, bite size pieces and I achieved this with a pizza cutter.  I don't own one of those big ol square pastry chopper/scrapper things.  I need one.  I'm new so I have to improvise.  The pizza cutter worked fine.  The single most important step...ok there are two most important steps...the first is this:  dipping the bites in a bath of baking soda and water before baking...OMG'SH!  It gives these pieces such a unique crunch that was extremely addicting.  Yes, even Jalen got in trouble several times for sneaking in there and eating more...and more...and more...all the way up until dinner.  ADDICTING crunch people.  The second most important step is the bathing of the butter.  Like I said earlier the dough was a tad bland and could have used some more butter.  The result?  Fattening and delicious.  I WILL be trying these babies again.  I could see them dipped in a marinara or nacho know that big giant blue container of it you can get from Costco?  Gawd I love that stuff.  I can't eat it right now because of the salt content BUT when I am off the roids...BRING IT ON!

*NOTE:  As I was making breakfast this morning, it was with sheer horror I realized I had forgotten to post the recipe to this lol...Its the steroids and lack of sleep I swear :)

*Makes about 2 dozen pretzel bites
Courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) very warm water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt (optional)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix to just combine. Add the water and mix well, adding more flour, as needed, a bit at a time to form a soft, smooth dough that clears the sides and bottom of the bowl. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth and quite slack. The goal is to get a really soft dough that isn’t overly sticky. Lightly flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag; close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 30 minutes or up to 60 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Don’t be afraid of the high heat! This is what will help those pretzels to brown up perfectly and stay soft on the inside. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or lightly greasing them.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into about four strips of equal length. Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda in a liquid measuring cup (deep enough to dip the pretzel bites into). Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved. Sometimes I have a hard time getting the baking soda completely dissolved, so I just lightly stir up the mixture right before adding each pretzel.
Cut each strip of dough into about 6-8 pieces, about 1 to 1 ½ inches in width. You don’t have to be completely exact, just eyeball it. Dip each pretzel bite in the baking soda solution (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Bake the pretzels for 7-8 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Bake one sheet at a time – it won’t hurt the other pretzels to chill out for a little longer.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you’ve used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that’s what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave on low heat.

1 comment:

  1. This look amazing, kelli! They sound kind of a process to make....yummy!