There are few things more satisfying than a really great homemade soft pretzel. After our backpacking trip, I was craving just about everything in the book (that wasn’t Annie’s Mac and Cheese — this is basically what I ate for 3 nights straight). For some odd reason, pretzels came into my mind. I knew, as soon as we returned, that I was going to have to make some. So my endeavor down pretzel lane wasn’t a glorious one. I don’t know if any of you have ever taken a stab at making them, but they aren’t the EASIEST thing in the world to make. Maybe I was putting too much thought into it though. I can relate making them to making Christmas cookies. It’s like there’s a little voice in the back of your mind telling you they are going to come out a disaster. I really believe it’s one of those recipes in which you need some more hands in the kitchen. Bribe your kids into helping out! In the end, they were totally worth it. This is a great recipe for a group (like baking Christmas cookies). Kids will love helping out with them almost as much as they will enjoy eating them when they are all puffed up and golden too! So although, they were some what of a disaster while I was making them, I really think that with little tweaks here and there (and a little patience too) it really is the most perfect, fun activity for a Friday night. * Hint * This is how I spent my Friday night. Don’t judge me.
So the pretzels came out pretty spectacular (besides the annoyance of making them at the time). I think I made this pretty obvious, but the honey mustard is the best part. Honey mustard is one of those sauces that’s a lot easier to make than you may think. Surprise! Honey + Mustard = Honey Mustard! That’s really all there is to it. You can take it a bit further like I did, but if you have honey and mustard hanging out somewhere in your pantry, then you are good to go. I think a little bit of mayo is a good addition also. It makes it creamier, which I think is totally necessary for honey mustard.
A couple of things:
1. You do not have to use whole wheat flour. I used it for a little kick, but all-purpose can certainly be substituted. Bread flour will also work.
2. You can certainly try to make “traditionally” shaped pretzels. Due to my annoyance at just wanting to finish up the recipe, I did not go this route! They taste the same in the end, and I think the “bites” are way more fun! Portion control people. Portion control.
3. I did go the “traditional” route when it came to toppings. Sea salt is the way I went. You can always sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and serve with chocolate sauce. Well…hmmmmm…there’s an idea =).
A beer I thought would be best for pairing with this recipe was a Belgian-style pale ale of some kind. Belgian-style pale ales are THE perfect Summer brew. They are crisp and refreshing. Most of the time, they should have a banana-like aroma. Upslope Brewing is a local brewery here in the Boulder area. They are great. They brew an unbelievable Belgian-style pale ale. It’s perfect with these pretzel bites because you don’t want anything too out of control, but you also don’t want to drink beer flavored water either. It’s perfectly light. If you are not in the Boulder area, try another Belgian-style pale ale. Upslope is still on the smaller side, so their beer will be difficult to find. There are alternatives around, just keep an eye out.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Pretzel bites are super fun to make and super fun to eat. They are kid friendly and sure to be a crowd pleaser any way you slice it!
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, fine
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cups baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cool water
- coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
- 3/4 cups honey
- 3 tablespoons mayo
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (with dough attachment fixed), combine the water, yeast and honey. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast begins to foam slightly. To the bowl, add the butter, fine sea salt, whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. Knead on low until the flour is completely incorporated and then increase the speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes. At this point, the dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, gradually add more flour, a tablespoon at a time until it does. The dough should be sticky, but not so sticky that you can''t handle it.
- Roll the dough over onto a flat surface sprinkled with flour. Form into a ball. Drizzle the olive oil into a large bowl, and add the ball of dough. Toss to coat so that a skin does not form while it is rising. Cover with a damp towel and sit in a warm place to rise for an hour (or until it has doubled in size).
- Once the dough has risen, transfer back to your flat surface (sprinkled with flour). Cut into 8 equal pieces. Taking each piece individually, create 1 inch by 12 inch ropes. Cut the ropes into equal pieces of about 1 inch each. Set aside, and repeat this step for the rest of the dough.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and grease 2 large lipped baking sheets. Set aside. Combine the 10 cups of water and baking soda in a large dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Once the water has reached a boil, gently add the bites in batches of 12 with a slotted spoon. Boil the bites for 30 seconds and then remove (again with your slotted spoon). Transfer immediately to your prepared baking sheets and spread out so that no two bites are touching. Repeat this step for the rest of your bites. Brush each bite with the egg and water (egg wash) and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown (this happens very quickly so be careful). Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool slightly before serving.
- For the honey mustard, combine the mustards, honey, mayo and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the pretzel bites. Will store for about a week in the refrigerator.
Hardware: * Stand Mixer (with dough attachment fixed) * Measuring Cups * Measuring Spoons * Large Bowl * Damp Towel * Sharp Knife * 2 Large Lipped Baking Sheets * Non-Stick Spray or Parchment Paper * 5-Quart Dutch Oven or Larger * Slotted Spoon * Small Bowls * Brush * Cooling Rack * Whisk * Makes about 4 dozen Inactive Time: About 1 hour