Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Dogs

Two of my favorite ads on the Super Bowl yesterday featured dogs:

Not to mention We-Go, the Bud Light rescue puppy, and Mr. Quigley in those smokin' red Sketchers.

It seemed only fitting that I get on the bandwagon.

Super Pretzel Dogs
Maybe not so amusing as their $7 million a minute canine brethren, these puppies are nonetheless worthy of the spotlight. Don't be intimidated by the idea of making the pretzels from scratch. It's surprisingly simple, and the flavor and texture are PERFECT! Full credit to Joy the Baker for the idea, the recipe, and the step by step instructions. I used a variety of hot dog-sized smoked sausages from the grocery store...a few hot links, some kielbasa, and a cheddar brat, cut in half to make mini pretzel dogs. They were all delicious, and the kids and my husband ate every last one.

Much to the disappointment of my dog.

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F)
1 Tbs. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour (about 4- 4 1/2 cups.  Definitely weigh it!)
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled

8 hot dogs or smoked sausages, cut in half*

For boiling:
about 14 cups of water
1 cup baking soda

For finishing:
1 large egg, beaten, with a splash of water
Large flake salt and pepper for topping

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine warm water and sugar with a spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, stir in, and set aside for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture is nice and foamy.

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, smooth and stretchy. Scrape any residue out of the bowl.  Light coat the mixing bowl (the same one or a new one) with a bit of olive oil. Place the dough back in the bowl, sprinkle with flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and store in a warm place to rise. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

NOTE: If you don't want to make your pretzels immediately, at this point you can punch the dough down, transfer to a Ziplock bag, and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 425. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.  If using parchment paper, Joy notes you should brush the paper with oil so the pretzels don't stick.

Combine water and baking soda in a large pot and bring to a boil.  This is the secret to the "pretzel" taste and texture, giving it that distinctive crisp-chewy surface and flavor.

While the water comes to a boil, turn the dough out onto a clean, slightly oiled work surface. Divide dough into 16 pieces.

Lightly flour your hands.  Roll each piece into a rope about 12 inches long, either working the dough between your palms, or rolling on your oiled surface with your fingers, working your way out from the center in either case. Wrap each rope around half of 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.

Click to print this recipe!

* Of course, you can totally just make the pretzels without the hot dogs.  I'm planning to!

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