Friday, September 2, 2011

Soft Pretzels and Pretzel Dogs

I saw this recipe for pretzel dogs on and thought it would be a great way to use up some hotdogs in the fridge (especially since the only buns we had were freezer burned). Turns out, this is Alton Brown's recipe for soft pretzels - just with hot dogs. Mine got a little darker than expected but that's because I have a small, non-standard-sized oven and things cook a little faster. The dogs are great for potlucks and barbecues since the recipe makes a lot (Labor Day, anyone?). I like to dip them in Dijon mustard but they are good alone or with nacho cheese. You will get 18 pretzel dogs out of this recipe.

For the pretzels, obviously you leave out the hot dogs and just twist the dough into pretzel shapes. Other than that, the process is the same. You will get 8 large pretzels out of this recipe.

from Alton Brown and Jan's Pretzel Dogs

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 (0.25 oz) package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. water
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
kosher salt - to taste
18 hot dogs, optional

Combine the water, sugar, and 2 tsp. kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.* Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for approximately 50-55 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot.

In the meantime:

For pretzels: turn dough onto lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press into the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.

For pretzel dogs: turn dough onto lightly oiled work surface and roll into a 10x20-inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 18 1-inch wide strips, then wrap each strip tightly around a hot dog, pinching the edges to seal, and leaving the ends open. About half an inch of hot dog should peek out from each end.

Place the pretzels or pretzel dogs in the boiling water, 1 by 1 (or up to 3 at a time with the dogs), for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water with a large, flat spatula and place on the prepared baking sheets. Brush each pretzel or pretzel dog with the egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp. water. Sprinkle with kosher salt if desired. Bake 12-14 minutes or until dark golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

*The dough can be made in a bread machine: Combine the warm water, sugar, and 2 tsp. kosher salt in a bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy. Place the bread flour and butter in the machine. Add the yeast mixture and select the dough cycle.

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