Saturday, March 21, 2009

Twists and turns on a Saturday afternoon

We've been busy today. I got the boys all pumped up to cook with me. I planned to make something easy for kids, but involved enough so we could make the better part of the day revolve around the process. I settled on Soft Pretzels.
I got the recipe from Alton Brown on the Food Network. I made a couple of modifications I've listed below and they were a giant hit. My only regret was that I only had one Guinness left in the fridge so I had to share with Mr. Dog.

Since the boys aren't big fans of mustard, I made a cheese dipping sauce for them. I used sharp cheddar and they gobbled it up. I opted for spicy brown mustard, which I could easily eat with nothing but a spoon. Love it.

Soft Pretzels ala Good Eats
1 1/2 cups warm water (I added 2 Tbsp more since I used white whole wheat flour)
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
22 oz (about 4 1/2 cups) white whole wheat flour (Alton used All Purpose flour)
2 oz butter, melted
Olive oil for the bowl and rolling surfaces
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk plus 1 Tbsp water mixed for an egg wash
pretzel or coarse sea salt.

In your stand mixer combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until it becomes foamy. Then add flour and butter and mix with the bread hook attachment for 5 minutes or until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and roll the ball of dough until all sides are lightly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place until it doubles in size (about an hour).
In a big pot boil your 10 cups of water and baking soda.
Once the dough has doubled in size, cut it into 8 equal pieces. On a lightly oiled surface roll each out into a long rope about 2 feet long. Form your pretzel twist. I can't really walk you through that process, but if you kind of make a heart where the tail ends overlap then twist them over to form the center twist, that's about it.
Put the formed pretzels into the boiling baking soda water one at a time allowing each one to cook for about 30 second before taking them out. I used a slotted metal spatula to do this and it worked like a charm.
Place your boiled pretzels on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Paint on the egg wash and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Alton says 12-14 but he must like eating charcoal.
After baking, cool for 5 minutes on a baking rack before serving.

Cheese Dipping Sauce

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk
4-6 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp spicy brown mustard

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for about a minute then whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat until it starts to thicken. Stir in the cheese, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Yep, that's it.