June 12, 2012

Wrap It Up

It's not all salads and health food around here.  Sometimes it's the weekend, and the weather is perfect and this picture you saw of soft pretzel wrapped hot dogs just won't get out of your head.  They're the summertime version of pigs-in-a-blanket., practically begging you to make them and re-live some childhood memories.  Everything I needed, I already had.  No excuses.

This is the second time I've worked with pretzel dough, and I must say that it's a breeze to handle.  It dosen't stick to every surface, you can shape it with ease and would you look at that beautiful shiny, golden crust?  Sure, the dough itself is on the stiff side and not the easiest to knead by hand (no Kitchen-Aid here), but that's hardly worth complaining about.  It's only 5 minutes of manhandling, pushing, folding and rotating, which you can just pass off as a mini arm workout, how convenient!

What follows seems like a tedious series of steps for something you're only going to wrap around a hot dog - shape dough into ropes, wrap, boil, brush with egg wash and top with coarse salt - but in total only takes about 15 minutes to execute and so worth it.  I mean, I'm not really even into hot dogs, but I loved these pretzel dogs.  Soft, chewy pretzel outside, steamed from the inside by that salty, savory dog and then slathered in a spicy mustard.  Yes, I could have eaten two.  The brown mustard mixed with a bit of Sriracha was an extra nice touch.  I see these becoming my summer BBQ staple.

Joy's post suggests making these and serving them with cold beer and enjoying them with friends and I heartily agree.  It was a lovely, warm, Sunday evening indeed.

Mini Pretzel Dogs
Adapted from Joy the Baker

Had I not used Nathan's dinner franks (which are larger than your average dog) for this recipe, I could have fully wrapped these in soft pretzel goodness, mummy-style. But Nathan's is what I had in the freezer, so it's what I used. Be classy, get a good brand of hot dogs or veggie dogs, you can't really bury these in toppings.

makes 8 mini dogs

3/4 cups warm water (between 110F and 115F)
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
11 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
2 quarts of water
1/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg, beaten, with a splash of water
sea salt, for topping

4 Nathan's Dinner Franks, cut in half
mustard for dipping

In a bowl, combine warm water and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and set aside for 5 minutes. The mixture will begin to foam and froth. If it doesn’t, throw the mixture away and start again with new yeast.

Once the yeast and water is frothy, add the flour, salt, and melted butter. Using a wooden spoon, stir until well combined and the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should be soft, pliable, and just a bit sticky.

Coat a bowl with a bit of vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl, sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and store in a warm place to rise. Allow dough to rise, until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Place a baking rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 425F.  Lightly brush a baking sheet with oil and set aside.

Combine water and baking soda in a large pan (5 quart is fine) and bring to a boil.

While the water comes to a boil, turn the dough out onto a clean, dry surface. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Working with one piece at a time and leaving the remaining covered in the bowl, start with the fingers of both hands in the center of the dough, and roll, moving your hands outward as you roll. Roll the dough along the surface until you have about a 12 to 15-inch piece of rope. Wrap pretzel around a hot dog, making sure to pinch and seal the ends.  Set on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel.

When water has come to a boil, gently lower a few pretzel dogs into the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds. Remove carefully, using a flat, slotted spatula. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush boiled pretzels with beaten egg, and top with coarse sea salt (or sesame or poppy seeds).

Bake until deeply golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving warm.  They'll be best the day they are made.

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