Cheesy Soft Pretzels



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A little while ago a gentleman in our little town was injured and the community pulled together to raise some money. I wanted to do my part to help so I decided to do some baking. I made cinnamon buns and these cheesy soft pretzels. Everyone looooves bread so I knew they would sell well.
I ended up making 18 dozen cinnamon buns and 8 dozen pretzels. So... I know this recipe works well as I made it quite a few times. 
As written below, it makes 8 pretzels but it can easily be doubled! I added some extra aged cheddar to make them just a little different than a regular pretzel. You can leave the cheese out if you want or use another cheese - just make sure it is something strong!


Cheesy Soft Pretzels

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 pkg yeast (2 1/4 tsp) 
3 - 4 cups flour
2 Tbsp oil
2 cups aged cheddar, shredded

Also needed
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
coarse salt for sprinkling

Directions
In a large bowl, stir together hot water, salt, and sugar. Add in yeast and let sit for 5 minutes for yeast to bloom. Add in 3 cups of flour, 2 Tbsp of oil, and the cheese. Mix until dough forms - you may have to add a bit more flour if it is too sticky. Knead dough for 2 minutes. 
Place into an oil bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for an hour.


When dough has doubled....


Preheat oven to 450. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 
Punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal size balls. (Note: I doubled the recipe that is why the picture below has 16.) Cover the balls with a tea towel and let rest 5 minutes. 


Bring a large pot of water with 2/3 cup of baking soda to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
Take one ball and roll it into a rope about 12 - 16 inches long. Fold the rope over on itself to form a pretzel shape. Press your finger firmly into the pretzel where the dough crosses itself. This is so the pretzel will stick together when you drop it in the water. (You can see the little indents below where I pressed the dough together.)


Drop the pretzels, 1 or 2 at a time, into the simmering water. Cook 1 minute and then gently flip over and cook another minute on the other side.


Place back on cookie sheet. When all pretzels have been done, using a pastry or basting brush, brush each pretzel with the beaten egg and then sprinkle with a little of the coarse salt. 
Place in preheated 450 oven and cook until golden brown, about 10 - 15 minutes.


Serve warm with honey mustard or hot mustard dipping sauce. I've also made a melty cheese dip to go with them. My niece-in-law dipped hers in a horseradish sauce that she had and it sounded like a genius idea. You can eat just as is too! There is no wrong way to enjoy a pretzel!


The baking soda bath is what gives them that signature pretzel chewiness. Word of advise - don't add the baking soda to a boiling pot of water. It will go *poof* and you will have baking soda water boiling up and over everything. Add it before the water boils... just sayin'.
These freeze quite well, the only thing is the salt sprinkled on top can disappear when the pretzel thaws. They still have the same great taste but just look a little different. 
If you are craving something salty and chewy and delicious.... you definitely want to give these a try!

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