Thursday, June 5, 2014

mother's day bonus: mini pretzel dogs

when i was still planning the menu for brunch, i casually mentioned pretzel dogs to jade, and she enthusiastically responded with, "yes, hot dog anything." haha. so, as a special treat to our newest mom, i baked up some mini pretzel dogs as a bonus mother's day snack.

i had been meaning to try this recipe ever since joy the baker posted it. i never got around to it because yeasted doughs intimidate me, and i never had a 'reason' to make 16 mini pretzel dogs. so finally i had a reason. i only had to figure out the timing/baking since i knew i wouldn't be able to get it all done at my mom's. luckily at the end of joy's post, she mentioned that the dogs could be stored in the fridge/freezer and reheated--granted they wouldn't be as good as fresh out of the oven (most things aren't).

the whole process of making the dough went surprisingly well. the dough came together all smooth and elastic and rose just like it should have. phew~ i portioned it out into 16 little balls and began rolling them into ropes to wrap around the hot dogs. as i made my way through the dough and dogs, i discovered that the pack of dogs i got only had SEVEN, instead of the expected eight. hmph, thanks a lot, hebrew national. once i was certain i didn't accidentally lose a hot dog, i made the last two dough balls into mini twisty pretzels.
with all the hot dogs wrapped up, into the baking soda boiling water they went. the baking soda is what gives the pretzel their distinct shell and chew. after a quick dip in the water, an egg wash, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and some time in the oven, the pretzel dogs were ready to eat. they had the perfect brown pretzel shell but were still nice and soft inside. yay! they came out great :) and were relatively easy. my worries about working with yeast were put to rest, and reheating the pretzel dogs later worked just fine (but definitely better fresh from the oven).
hot dogs wrapped in pretzel dough--seriously, where can you go wrong?

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:: mini pretzel dogs ::
(recipe from joy the baker)
makes 16 pretzel dogs (made from cutting hot dogs in half)

1 ½ cups warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
about 14 cups of water
1 cup baking soda
1 large egg, beaten, with a splash of water
salt and pepper for topping

in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine warm water and sugar. sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and set aside for 5 minutes. the mixture will begin to foam and froth. if it doesn’t, throw the mixture away and start again with new yeast.

once the yeast and water is frothy, add the flour, salt, and melted butter. using the dough hook, mix on low speed until well combined. increase the speed to medium and knead the dough until it is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, creating a ball of dough around the dough hook. beat on medium speed for approximately 4 minutes.

remove the dough from the bowl. the dough will be soft, pliable, and just a bit sticky. that’s perfect. scrape any residue out of the bowl and coat the bowl with a bit of vegetable oil. place the dough back in the bowl, sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and store in a warm place to rise. allow dough to rise, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

place baking racks in the center and upper third of the oven. preheat oven to 425 degrees F. line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and lightly brush the paper with oil. it’s important to brush the parchment paper or the pretzels will stick!

combine water and baking soda in a large pan (8 quart is fine) saucepan and bring to a boil.

while the water comes to a boil, turn the dough out onto a clean, slightly oiled work surface. divide dough into 8 or 16 pieces, depending on how large you’d like your pretzel dogs. 8 pieces of dough for whole hot dogs. 16 pieces of dough if you’re doing to slice the hot dogs in half.

start with the fingers of both hands in the center of the dough, and roll, moving your hands outward as you roll. roll the dough along the oiled surface until you have about a 24-inch or 12-inch piece of rope (depending on how large your piece of dough was...the more dough the longer the rope).

wrap pretzel around a hot dog, making sure to seal the ends.

when water has come to a boil, gently lower a few pretzel dogs into the boiling water. boil for 30 seconds. remove carefully, using a flat, slotted spatula. place on prepared baking sheet. brush boiled pretzels with beaten egg, and add coarse sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

bake until deeply golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. transfer to a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving warm.

soft pretzels are best enjoyed the day they are made.

if you’re not going to enjoy all your pretzel dogs, double wrap them in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. when ready to serve, transfer out of plastic and into a piece of foil. wrap well and bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes, or until heated through.

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