Beer Pretzels

I made my brother-in-law jealous with all the pretzels I’ve been making and not sharing, so I decided to make a batch for him to enjoy (and the rest of us as well, as this recipe makes 12-16 pretzels).

The good thing about this batch is that you can press pause after shaping them and place them in the freezer for later boiling and baking. It means delicious, warm pretzels later without repeating the process. You boil them from frozen, so it is a nice thing to keep around for a craving.

These make soft pretzels with a nice yeasty taste. Pop leftover cooked ones in the toaster oven for a quick rewarming. I gave my sister a bag of unbaked, frozen ones to take home and cook, whenever they want more.

Beer Pretzels

1 cup warm water
½ cup sourdough starter
1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast (about a package and a half)
½ cup packed dark-brown sugar
½ cup beer
6 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
4 tablespoons coarse salt
½ cup (1 stick) frozen unsalted butter, plus more for serving
Nonstick cooking spray
½ cup baking soda

1 egg, beaten in 1 tablespoon water
Coarse salt

In a medium bowl, mix together warm water, yeast, and 1/2 cup brown sugar; let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together flour and coarse salt. Grate frozen butter into bowl and mix with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Stir beer into yeast mixture and mix into flour until a shaggy dough is formed and liquid is absorbed.

Using the dough hook attachment, mix dough on medium speed until dough is tight, elastic, and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator; let chill at least 8 hours and up to overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Roll dough out into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut dough into about a dozen 12-inch-long strips, each about 1-inch wide.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out each piece into a 24 to 30-inch-long rope (about 3/4-inch thick), starting from the center and working toward the ends. Make a “U” shape with the rope and cross the ends over twice, pinching at the bottom of the “U” to form a pretzel. Return to baking sheet and repeat process with remaining dough.

If you don’t want to bake all your pretzels at once you can freeze them overnight or for several days at this point. Just place the shaped pretzels on a baking sheet and place into the freezer. If you’re not going to eat them right away, place in a zip top bag once hard frozen.

When ready to continue, preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. Add in baking soda. Simmer pretzels, one at a time, about 30 seconds, holding them under the surface of the water, if necessary, using a spider or slotted spatula. For pretzels straight out of the freezer, boil for 1 minute. Place on wire rack to drain, then transfer to prepared baking sheet and repeat process with remaining pretzels.

Coat pretzels with egg wash. Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate baking sheet, and bake until deep brown, 6 – 8 minutes more. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Serve warm with butter or mustard.

 

Super Skillet Pretzels with Beer Cheese Dip

It is Superbowl Sunday and even if you find Debbie Reynolds as a dancing football more interesting than the actual game, here is an appetizer recipe that will score with everyone. Use your cast iron skillet to make these pretzels and definitely use the beer cheese dip with them. Oh, and if you want a cool crunch, cut up some slices of Granny Smith apple for dunking in the cheese sauce. Scrumptious!

pretzels and cheese sauce

Super Skillet Pretzels with Beer Cheese Dip

For the Skillet Pretzels:
1½ cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
4½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and let cool
¼ cup baking soda, for baking solution
8 cups water, for baking solution
1 whole egg, lightly beaten, for brushing
Kosher salt, for topping

For the Beer Cheese Dip:
1 bottle beer
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoon flour
8 oz cream cheese, diced and softened
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

In a large bowl or bowl of a countertop stand mixer, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit 5 minutes to proof the yeast.

Stir in 3½ cups of the flour, the salt and the melted butter. Mix until well combined. Slowly add more flour, a bit at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky and pulls away from the edges of the bowl. You may use the entire 4½ cups, or you might need a bit less.

Knead for 5 minutes. Lift the dough from the bowl and spray the bowl with nonstick spray. Place the dough back down, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Line a pan with parchment paper and spray your skillet with nonstick spray.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 16 equal-sized pieces. Take each piece and shape into balls by pulling each corner toward the middle and pinching together. Place pinched-side down on the parchment paper lined sheet. Loosely cover again with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise again for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring the 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, slowly add in the baking soda. Make sure you add it slowly or the water could boil over!

Put the rolls (1-3 at a time, depending on how big your pot is), in the water pinched side down. Boil for 30 seconds, then flip and boil the other side for another 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pretzel rolls from the water and place back on the baking sheet to cool. Continue until all of the pretzels have been boiled in the baking solution.

Arrange the pretzels around the outside of the prepared skillet. Squeeze them together so they fit snugly. You may not be able to fit all of the pretzels– if not, that’s okay. You can bake the remaining ones separately.

Cover once more and let sit for 5 minutes.

Brush the pretzels with the beaten egg, and then sprinkle with Kosher salt. Using a sharp knife, make X-shaped slices in the top of the pretzel rolls. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pretzels are deep golden brown.

As they bake, prepare the Beer Cheese Dip. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the beer to a simmer. In a bowl, toss the cheese with the flour. Add the cheese mixture to the beer with the remaining ingredients. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the texture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Go, Sports!

Mini Soft Pretzels

I had an urge for homemade pretzels yesterday but knew it was a long process with two long rises on the dough. I started it around noon today and finally ate my first pretzel at 4:30. If you want to make larger pretzels, don’t divide the dough and roll them out to at least 20″.

These are nice and chewy. Best served hot from the oven, they are also delicious warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds the next day.

Mini Soft Pretzels

bread flour1-1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey

1-1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

4-1/2 to 5 cups bread flour

3 tablespoons baking soda

3 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons coarse salt

Stir the water and honey together in a heat proof measuring cup, microwave for 1 minute or until the water is about 105-degrees. Add yeast, whisk together and allow to proof for 5 minutes.

Place the salt and flour and in bowl of standing mixer equipped with dough hook. With the mixer on low, slowly add the honey/water/yeast mixture. Increase the speed slightly and mix the dough for 10 minutes, adding an additional ½ cup of flour if dough is too sticky.

Put dough on a lightly floured counter and form into a smooth ball. Coat a large mixing bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat in the oil. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and allow rise at room temperature for 1 to 1-1/2 hours (depending upon room temperature) until it has doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough. Re-cover and allow to continue to rise for another hour until it has doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half and place one half in a bag in the refrigerator for later use (can also be frozen at this stage). Cut the remaining dough into 18 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 6” rope, let them rest while you roll the remaining, then roll them out to about 12 to 18”. This extra relaxation time will make them easier to finish rolling. Shape each rope into a pretzel by holding each end, cross them, twist and press down with a drop of water. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

dough

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Add 6 cups water into a 12-inch skillet. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil over high heat.

skillet boil

Using a spider gently place around 4 pretzels into the boiling water, top-side down for 30 seconds. Using tongs, carefully flip over and boil the second side for another 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels, drain briefly on wire rack, then place back onto the prepared baking sheet.

Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with coarse salt and bake for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheet before baking for another 7 minutes, until the pretzels are well-browned.

Let the pretzels from cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and enjoy!

finished pretzels