Pretzel Bites

We’ve been hosting a get-together at our house on Super Bowl Sunday since we moved in a few years ago.  Most (if not all) of our friends are Patriots fan, but even when the Patriots don’t make it to the big game, we still like getting together to watch the game (and the commercials) and enjoy some good food!  Last night’s game was really exciting and we definitely enjoyed watching the Saints win so congratulations to all of their fans!  Hopefully next year the Patriots will be back in the Super Bowl :)

I actually didn’t make much food for our party this year since it was a small gathering.  Yesterday I blogged about the red velvet cupcakes I made and today I wanted to share the soft pretzel bites that were also on the menu.  I saw these over on Maria’s site, Two Peas and their Pod, last week and I knew I wanted to try them.  They looked delicious and I’ve been on a pretzel kick lately plus homemade pretzels are so much better than anything you can buy in the store. 

Pretzel Bites

These are definitely worth the effort!  They’re really pretty simple, especially if you read the directions properly, which I failed to do on the first batch.  I didn’t divide the dough into a small enough piece so my rope was thick, yielding jumbo pretzel bites.  Luckily, they still came out fine so no harm done.  The only other thing I’d advise is to spray the baking sheets very well with cooking spray.  Some of the pretzel bites from my first batch stuck to the bottom of the pan.  I liked these best when they were still a bit warm, but they’re tasty at room temperature too. 

Soft Pretzel Bites
adapted from Bobby Flay (as seen on Two Peas and their Pod)

1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 F)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast (I used instant)
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled just slightly
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
coarse sea salt

On low speed, mix the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and 4 1/2 cups of the flour and mix on low speed until combined.  Increase the speed to medium (I don’t put my mixer above 2 when kneading dough so I just kept it there) and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.  Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
Spray a bowl with cooking spray (or oil with with vegetable oil), add the dough and turn to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Spray two baking sheets liberally with cooking spray.
Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each.  Roll each piece into a long rope measuring about 22 inches.  Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make pretzel bites.  Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches of about 10-15 for 30 seconds.  Remove with a large slotted spoon and place the pretzel bites on the prepared baking sheets, making sure they aren’t touching.  Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt.  Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove to a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating.