We were in Orlando last week and my kids made us wait in a 45 min line for Wetzel’s Pretzels. We do this every year, and EVERY YEAR I think “I can make these!” (And we definitely don’t need to be standing in this hot, sweaty line…)
So yesterday I put my money where my mouth is and made them. And they were better. (Sorry Wetzels!) It’s super easy (don’t be scared by the long instructions — they include variations for using a bread machine, making an alternate cinnamon sugar topping, which my kids love, etc.)
The key to getting the “street vendor” golden brown and puffy texture is a quick dip in a baking soda solution. Don’t skip this step!
I did my dough in the bread machine because it’s so easy. Once you make these, prepare to make them all the time. (The good news? No standing in line!)
Easy Pretzel Bites
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup 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.)
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt; or coarse or Swedish pearl sugar, optional
6 tablespoons 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.
To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.
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; or with pearl sugar, for sweet pretzel bites.
Bake the bites for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and roll them in the melted butter.
For cinnamon-sugar pretzels, toss with cinnamon-sugar once you’ve rolled the bites in the 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.
Yield: about 6 dozen bites.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour