Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mini Pretzels

A couple of days ago I made soft pretzels. In Philadelphia you can't go two blocks without seeing a soft pretzel. They're in food carts, corner stores, on shopping carts outside the ballpark. People eat them for breakfast - two at a time! I'm not originally from Philadelphia and at first it struck me as odd to see people eating mustard before 10am. I mean I love salted bagels and I guess they aren't that different from salty pretzels and that wasn't the issue - it was the mustard. I don't want mustard in the morning - I mean mustard and coffee? Yuck. If I were to eat a pretzel in the morning I'd want to dip it in cream cheese.

I do, however, want pretzels and mustard and maybe cheese at 2am after the bar closes. That's where Center City Pretzel Co. comes in. They open at midnight and start making pretzels for vendors to pick up early in the morning. But, luckily, they're also open to the public. The other night (well technically it was early morning) we got 4 pretzels and a cup of cheese for $2. They were delicious and totally worth burning my fingers on. And although late night carbs are definitely not good for the waist line, I think they help prevent the morning hangover, at least that's what I tell myself.

So back to my pretzels. I used this Martha Stewart recipe with the step by step guidance and the idea to make my pretzels mini provided by Deb at Smitten Kitchen. This was a test recipe so I cut it in half - I had no need for 16 jumbo pretzels! I combined the water, sugar, and yeast in my mixer and let it sit for 10 minutes and foam up. I then added the flour, a half of a cup at a time, and salt stirring it all up with the dough hook to combine. I then kneaded it for about a minute in the mixer.

I put my oven on for a few minutes at about 200 while I was making the dough and then turned it off - this made for a warm place for my dough to rest. It sat around for an hour in an oil coated bowl with a clean towel over it while it doubled in size.

When they came out I divided the dough into 16 pieces and used the Martha Stewart diagram to fold them into mini pretzels. Cute right?

While they rested for 10-15 minutes I preheated the oven to 450 and turned water on to boil. Once the water boils, add the baking soda to the pot and bring it down to a simmer. Add the pretzels and simmer for about a minute - I flipped half way through like Deb advised. And yes, this is the biggest pan you'll ever see in a home kitchen! It's huge, it's a freebie from work and I don't know what else I'll ever use it for other then to make a frittata for 15 friends.  

After they simmered I salted and peppered (why not?) them. I didn't have pretzel salt so they didn't look quite as pretty as they could have but the kosher salt still tasted good.

Here they are after about 12 minutes in the oven!

I thought they were good and I must admit I had them for breakfast - actually two of them (like a real Philadelphian would!). But no mustard! Ron said they were "rubbery" and he might be sort of right. But I still want to make mini sandwiches on them. These are best eaten as soon as possible but can sit around for a day or two uncovered so they don't get soggy. I asked Deb about how to prep these ahead and she said that once they are formed into pretzels, cover them with oiled plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge to slowly rise for up to 24 hours. Bring them to room temperature before boiling and baking like you normally would. I think I'll make these again, but next time with a crowd ready to eat them right out of the oven!


Elizabeth said...

Yum, yum, makes me want to head to Philly for pretzels and your cooking. (don't forget about the 7/26 baseball game date!) This blog is awesome - I am SO impressed!! Love you! Mom

Mark said...

Sar, best sandwich for a pretzel- sweet lebanon bologna and mustard, for reals.