I went to the internets for a recipe & the first one that came up was from Alton Brown. All the reviews said it made the best pretzels so I figured I couldn't go wrong. I did change the recipe slightly by exchanging some of the flour with whole wheat flour. Also the pretzels were to be boiled in water before baking but I decided to add a little more flavor & boil them in beer. I used a pretty hoppy IPA & you can really taste the hoppy/malty flavor in the pretzels.
I had a hard time rolling out the dough into thin snakes, it was just too elastic. Rolling it, then letting it rest & then rolling it again helped but there was still some bounce back. So, some of my pretzels weren't as completely hard as I would have liked. The thin ones were crispy all the way through while the thicker ones were crispy on the outside with a little bit of a soft pretzel middle. Figure your pretzels will puff to almost 50% their width when boiling so trying to get a thin snake is good.
I chose to make pretzels bites instead of the sticks in the recipe. I think 14" sticks would have been a little tricky to handle in the boiling to pan stage. I experimented a lot with the length of the bites & in the end decided about 1" is just right. They puff up a bit during the boiling & are a perfect one bite snack.
Hard Pretzel Bites
(adapted from Alton Brown)
1 c whole wheat flour
3 1/2 - 4 c all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c warm water
1 T sugar
2 t kosher salt
2 1/4 t active dry yeast (1 package)
1 bottle of beer
1 egg beaten with 1 T water
Weigh out 22 ounces of the flour & set aside.
Put the warm water, sugar and salt in a large mixing boil. Sprinkle the yeast on top & let sit until it begins to foam. Add the 22 ounces of flour. Mix together to combine. Knead by hand or with a bread hook on a mixer until the dough is smooth & not too sticky. Oil a bowl & put the dough in it. Cover with a towel & let rise about an hour until double in size.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Put the beer in a small saucepan & bring to a simmer, keep an eye on it as it easily foams up & boils over.
Work with a small amount of dough at a time, about 1 ounce, & keep the rest covered. Roll into a thin snake (try to get your snake between 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick) on a lightly oiled surface. (If the dough is very elastic & hard to get thin let it rest & roll again.) Cut the snake into 1" pieces. Drop the pieces a few at a time (I did about 10 at a time) into the simmering beer. Let simmer for 30 seconds, the pretzels will puff up & some may start to split, this is what you want. Remove from the beer with a slotted spoon & place on a baking sheet that covered with either a silicone pad or parchment paper & oil. They won't get much bigger while cooking so you can put them about 1/4" apart on the sheet. Continue until all the dough is gone. If the beer starts to get too low to cover the pretzels either add more or do what I did & just add some water.
Brush the pretzels with the egg an water mixture. Sprinkle generously with the kosher salt. Bake for about 55 minutes until the pretzels are hard & a dark brown. Remove to a rack to cool.
It's hard to say how many this makes since I did a lot of different sizes but I bet you can get at least 200 of the 1" bites.
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© 2007-2010 Kathy Lewinski
© 2007-2010 Kathy Lewinski