The book where I found this recipe is just fabulous! It’s called, Cooking with Beer- right up my ally. It’s by Paul Mercurio. I love his writing, it’s as though he’s simply just having a conversation with you. The pictures are just beautiful-most of which are set in a brewery, or bar. The book itself begins with a Beer 101 session on how beer is made. Most of the recipes include beer in them-which I just love. This recipe however, I found in the section ‘Good with Beer’. So, I think this would be a really fun, edible project to do with your kids. This is my plan for my afternoon with my nephews later today! They are ages 9 and 11 (almost 12), as well, we’ll be including our friend Nomi who is 13. I’ll let you know how it all turns out!
- 1/2 Cup milk
- 1/2 Cup water
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 2 tsp dried yeast
- 1 TBSP butter, softened
- 2 to 3 Cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp. baking soda
- Large sea salt flakes (I like to use margarita salt, or coarse sea salt)
Combine the milk and hot water in a pitcher- the mixture should be warm but not hot. Add the sugar, yeast and butter and give it a stir, then set aside. After 5 or 10 minutes the yeast should be active and you will see lots of froth sitting on top.
Attach a dough hook to an electric mixer. Put 2 cups of the flour into the mixing bowl and turn the mixer on. Give the yeast mixture a stir and then slowly add it to the flour, mixing al the time. The flour will come together but will still be quite wet, so add some of the remaining flour a handful at a time until the dough begins to for a ball. How much flour you need will depend on what type of flour you are using as they take up liquid to different degrees. You don’t want this dough to be too dry, or stiff. It should be very soft and slightly sticky. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or so, until the dough texture takes on a more silky character. Put the dough in a floured glass bowl, I usually spray some oil around the inside of the bowl and then sprinkle flour around it, as this stops the dough sticking to the glass. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour or two or until the dough has at least doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line two baking sheets with wax paper. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a floured work surface and shape it into a log. (the kids can help you with this part!- just let them have fun with it!)
But, if you’re trying to make ‘perfect’ looking soft pretzels, follow the next bunch of instructions. Cut this log in half, then cut each half into three pieces. Roll each piece out to about 18 inches long-there is a trick to this, which is to leave a fatter bit in the middle. Imagine a snake has swallowed a football which is sitting in the snake’s middle. This fatter section should be about 2 1/2 inches long. As this dough is quite soft you probably won’t be albe to roll it on the work surface, so the easiest way to roll it is to pick it up and hold it between your hands. With palms together and thumbs pointing to the roof, make like you are rubbing your hands together to warm them. Allow the dough to hang down, and as you rub your hands together the dough will slowly fall down, doing it. Let the dough drop to the work surface and then repeat the process, starting from the other end. In order to get the fatter bit in the middle, start the rolling motion 1 1/2 inches past the center of the dough, and when you turn the dough and do the other side, start again 1 1/2 inches past the middle section-and voila, you will end up with an 18 inch long length of dough with a fat section in the middle, with practice comes perfection!
Now, to make a pretzel shape, have a rolled ‘snake’ lying on the work surface in front of you. pick up both ends and hold the dough above the work surface so it forms a big ‘U’ shape. Now cross your hands in a circular motion so that the ‘U’ swings, turns and twists around itself, then lay it flat on the work surface, still holding onto the ends. Place one end on top and to the side of the fat middle section, and the other end on the other side. Wet your finger and dab where the two ends rest on the fat section to seal them down. Shape all the pretzels in the same way.
In a skillet, bring 4 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil. Dunk a pretzel in for about 10 seconds, then turn it over using tongs and let it sit for another 10 seconds. Remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and tongs and place on a prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with the other shaped pretzels, so you have three pretzels on each tray. Sprinkle generously with the salt flakes.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until the pretzels are a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and try to wait until they are a little cooler before you devour them. Of course, eat them with your favorite beer (or milk, or soda, or water!)
Another recipe you might enjoy is Cheesy Breaded Eggplant.