Sunday, September 4, 2016

Soft Pretzel Bites - Perfect for Back to School!

Snacks.... I never thought about snacks as much as I have since becoming a Mom. I keep snacks on hand, I don't dare leave the house without something handy and my kids are constantly asking for them.

"Mom, I'm hungry... can I have a snack?"

School is starting back up here next week which brings a whole new angle to snack time - class snacks. Families are assigned one day a month to provide a snack for the entire class. Of course, once on a time snack schedule, my kids are "starving" at that time on weekends, holidays and when out for summer.

So, yes... my life revolves around having snacks handy or a few bars or pouches of something buried deep in my purse. Despite my initial resistance to snacking between meals, I have resigned myself to knowing as my boys get older this need to constantly graze will only get worse.

Lucky for you, my September Secret Recipe Club assignment brought with it a great recipe and snack idea that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy - Soft Pretzel Bites. Now, that is a snack even I was excited to make!

This month I was assigned to Making Memories with your Kids and Erin had tons of great ideas to make meal times fun both for eating and for getting into the kitchen with the whole family. I chose the Soft Prezel Bites recipe for my youngest son, Elliott, who just adores pretzels! He also lives for snacks. While looking through Erin's site though I found many other fun recipes I want to try like her Homemade Pop Tarts or her recipe for Twix Cheesecake Brownie Torte - Yes, please!  Erin really has a passion for getting her kids involved in baking and cooking, so if you are looking to be inspired, be sure to check out her blog.

This recipe is pretty simple. Pretzels and bagels are created like any other bread dough, then boiled briefly and finished off with a topping and some time in the oven to bake and crisp up. The extra step though is totally worth the time! These little pretzel bites are crunchy on the outside while still being warm and chewy in the middle. I dipped mine in some coarse grained mustard, but my toddler gobbled them up plain and warm from the oven.

It all starts with a little yeast...

Proofing is like a morning call to the yeast colony. "Hey guys! Time for work..."

All the ingredients go in and the dough should come out supple, but not too sticky either. It had just enough flour in order to clean the sides of the stand mixer, but it was not dry.

After a good rise, about an hour to double in size, I created my "snake" of dough and used my bench scraper to cut small peices off. I rolled each into a tighter ball and pinched the seam on the bottom.

Then I boiled my pretzel bites in water with non-diastic malt powder for about a minutes. The non-diastic malt powder helps to produce a shiny crust on bagels and pretzels. I use a ratio of 2 Tablespoons to 2 quarts of water. You can order it from amazon or King Arthur Flour. You can substitue baking soda, if you prefer, as in Erin's original recipe.

Then I brushed each bite with egg wash and sprinkled it with a little pretzel salt. The pretzel salt really holds up well to baking and doesn't disappear as Kosher salt can.

After baking, the soft pretzel bites were golden brown and ready to be devoured! Don't these look yummy?

Don't worry if the recipe seems to make an endless supply of these little soft pretzel bites. Believe me, they go quickly! Once you start snacking on them, you will be hooked. Let me know in the comments below what you would dip your pretzel bites into? Cheese sauce? Mustard, like me? Or do you have an alternate favorite? I would love to hear about it!

Soft Pretzel Bites
adapted from Making Memories with Your Kids

You Will Need:
  • 1 1/2 c.  water at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 1/2 tsp. bread salt
  • 4 1/2 c. flour
  • vegetable oil - for oiling the bowl during proofing
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 Tbsp. non-diastic malt powder
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
  • pretzel salt
Proof the yeast by combining the water, yeast, brown sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams and becomes bubbly. If there is no activity, or your yeast is sluggish, replace the yeast and start again.

Add the salt and flour to the bowl and with the dough hook, mix on medium for about 5 minutes. The dough should become smooth and the bowl should be clean. Remove from the mixer and put into an oiled bowl, turn the dough over, cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Once the dough is almost ready, bring a pot of water up to boil with 2 quarts water and the non-diastic malt powder. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Once the dough is ready, divide into 8 balls. Roll the dough out into long snakes and cut or divide into smaller portions. They will still puff up a little while cooking. I cut mine into thumb sized peices. 

Working in batches, drop the pretzel peices into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then with a slotted spoon, remove them and place them on a non-stick baking mat. I used silpat for this this. Brush the boiled dough with egg wash and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the peices are a golden brown.

Remove from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack.


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