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December 3, 2009

Pigs in a Pretzel

I'm not a huge pretzel fan, but I do like soft pretzels with cheese when I'm at a sporting event, and pretzel dogs.  My husband LOVES pretzels though, and I've had a few soft pretzel recipes saved to try but I've never really had an excuse to make soft pretzels, especially considering I don't really eat pretzels too often.  Ever since we went to a Cardinal's game mid-Summer and I saw people walking around with their pretzel dogs I've been craving them, but there aren't a lot of places that serve them, at least not a lot of places I frequent.  One of our good friends was having a Halloween party and I wanted to make something to take to help sop up some of the alcohol and initially thought of pretzel dogs (I said I'd been craving them), however not knowing how many people would show up, want one, etc. I had no idea how many to make.

Immediately I went to work trying to find the best recipe to use to make mini-pretzel dogs, or Pigs in a Pretzel as I've coined them.  This recipe tasted delicious, however next time I'll make them when I'm not so rushed.  Superbowl time maybe?!

Pigs in a Preztel

Adapted from Vanilla Icing and Pillsbury
Printer Friendly Recipe

PRETZEL DOGS
11 ounces all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (that's 1 packet)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7-8 ounces of warm water
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoons sugar
8 hot dogs of your choice OR 1lb package of Cocktail Sausages
2 tablespoons melted butter
Pretzel salt, kosher salt or other coarse salt

Directions
- In a bowl, combine flour, yeast, (1 teaspoon) sugar and salt and stir to combine. Beat in the water slowly until it forms a rough ball. You'll want to go slow because you'll find in the winter you'll probably need the greater amount of water, in the summer the lesser, etc.

- Knead for about 5 minutes by hand or mixer until it's a soft ball. If you are mixing by hand, do NOT add additional flour. Spray your counter top lightly with spray oil if you find the dough sticking. Otherwise, simply knead with sure quick movements. When properly kneaded it shouldn't be sticky to the touch but instead will be quite smooth and relaxed. It should pass the windowpane test*.

- Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turn once to coat and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

For Full Hot Dogs: preheat the oven to 500. Make a slit lengthwise down each hot dog allowing the knife to slice about a third of the way through.

For Cocktail Sausages: preheat the oven to 375. Make a small slit lengthwise down each sausage.

- On a lightly greased surface, turn out the dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes, uncovered. Then, roll out each piece into a long rope about 25 inches or so and wrap around a hot dog. The dough will cover the dog from end to end. Quickly dip the entire thing in the 1/2 cup water mixed with sugar, place the dog on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Be sure your ends of dough are tucked under the dog. Repeat for remaining 7 dogs. Let all the dogs rest for 10 minutes.

- Bake the dogs for about 8-10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Brush the dogs with the butter. It will seem like a lot of butter but really it's not a lot at all and it IS all needed to keep your pretzel delicious and soft. Serve immediately.





* Once the dough is springy and lively, it's time for what bakers call "the windowpane test". Start by pulling off a piece of dough about the size of a walnut. Roll it between your hands for a few seconds to smooth the damage done when you pulled the dough away from the larger chunk of dough. Now, using both hands, pull the dough between your hands. The idea is to tease the dough into a sheet or film. From time to time, rotate the dough 90 degrees so you will be pulling on different sides. As you pull on the dough, it should form a sheet, or film, that is thin enough that light can pass through it. No, you won't be able to see things through it, like you could with a real window. The dough shouldn't tear when you do this.


If you can form a windowpane, the dough is fully developed. If you can't, then knead another 5 minutes or so.


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