Quarantine Pretzel Bites

Unlike most of you bloggers during our world-wide quarantine, I haven’t been baking cakes and pies and sweets and treats. Mostly that’s because I’m not a baker. I can bake yeasted bread in my sleep, but bread isn’t what I wanted to create in my kitchen during my isolation. I cooked instead.

But one day I was looking through my pantry and came across pretzel salt that I bought years ago, with the anticipation of making pretzel bites for the first time. So here I am getting on the baking bandwagon, although still a savory one.

I googled for a recipe, and found one from King Arthur Flour, which is a wonderful U.S. company that sells just about everything with which you need to bake. So I assumed it was a good recipe.

Turns out, my pretzel salt was from King Arthur Flour!

From the King Arthur Flour website, “You know the chewy texture and distinctive “street vendor pretzel” flavor you get in pretzels bought hot from a pushcart in the city? These bite-sized pretzels, in either a sweet or classic salty version, are a wonderful made-at-home take on those metro-style treats.”

Pretzel Bites
Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Pretzel dough:
2 1/2 cups (298g) King Arthur unbleached all-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (7g) instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup (198g to 227g) warm water*
* Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Topping:
1 cup (227g) boiling water
2 tablespoons (28g) baking soda
Coarse, kosher or pretzel salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted

To make dough by hand, or with a mixer: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it’s soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

My yeast is not instant, so I prepped my yeast first, then continued with the remaining dough ingredients.

While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into six equal pieces. Roll the six pieces of dough into 12″ to 15″ ropes. Cut each rope crosswise into about 12 pieces.

Pour the cooled baking soda solution into a pan large enough to hold the bites. Place the bites into the solution, gently swish them around, and leave them there for a couple of minutes. Transfer them to a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and top with pretzel salt or sea salt.

Bake the bites for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and roll them in the melted butter.

Place on a rack. In you’re not going to enjoy them immediately, store the bites, well-wrapped, at room temperature. Reheat briefly before serving.

The sweet version of these pretzel bites involves sprinkling them with cinnamon sugar, instead of salt.

I’ve seen a lot of folks mention that they were out of yeast during their isolation period. I can’t tell you how long I’ve had this yeast – ten years at least. I keep it in the freezer. It continues to work perfectly, and boy is it so much less expensive than buying little jars of yeast.

These pretzel bites are superb. You don’t have to sprinkle on much of the pretzel salt because the saline bath provides a lot of saltiness.

The only thing I’d do differently is to raise my oven rack. Its default position is the lowest position, mostly because the 6’6″ man who installed it thought the oven “looked better installed a little higher.” He may have been right, but as it is I need a step stool…

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