I've recently discovered that writing a food blog can lead to tighter jeans... either that or the heat on our dryer is definitely too high! With my recent plethora of carb loaded recipes I decided that today was the day that I was going to go back to my low carb, lean protein diet for a few days, no cookies, no chocolate cakes and no breads. However... Liv had other plans.
After her successful day at our local Junior Lifeguard Competition where she place 2nd in the Beach Flag event, she woke up this morning with aching heels and a craving for the Pizza Pretzels that we have been planning to make since school got out. She and her dance friends frequently get pizza pretzels at our local smoothie shop, Beach City Smoothies, here in downtown Carlsbad and we thought we'd give them a try at home.
Shaping the pretzels seemed to be the most difficult part of this recipe for us, as making the dough and topping the formed pretzels is just like making a pizza. Our recipe recommended making the dough the night before baking and giving it a good night's rest in the fridge. Adding the spices directly to the dough gave the pretzels a full depth of flavor that we have found lacking in other pretzels that only have spices on top of a plain pretzel.
The baking soda/water bath was a bit nerve wracking for us, but proved to be a piece of cake. Placing the baking soda into the hot water and dissolving is recommended just before you dip your pretzels for a few seconds into the water bath. The baking soda/water bath allows the pretzels to gain a shiny, brown crust with a light interior. Unfortunately, I think our measurements were a bit off and we hadn't realized that the baking soda should be added to the bath and dissolved immediately before dipping. As such, our pretzels were a bit more breadlike, but I can see how this will work for our future batches.
Topped with a pizza sauce and a bit of cheese, these pretzels will make your house smell like a Italian pizzeria within minutes. My teenage son wandered down about 15 minutes into the baking time asking what we were making and could he have some? Olivia gives these pretzels two thumbs up and is already perusing the internet for more flavors and recipes. Looks like we will have more to come!
One more note, our directions called for allowing the shaped pretzels to rise until doubled in size before baking. I would not do this next time as ours came out more like pizza croissants - not really pretzel shaped at all once all the dough puffed from the raising, water bath and then again in the oven! Shaping, resting for 10 minutes or so, bathing and then baking would be our notes for next time.
1 Tbs active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (appro 100º)
3 Tbs light brown sugar
3 cups all purpose flour (approximately)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
3 tsp baking soda
1 cup hot water
In a large bowl combine the yeast with one cup of warm water along with 1 Tbs of the brown sugar. Stir and and let stand for about 5 minutes or until slightly foamy.
Add the remaining sugar and mix well.
Add 1 cup of the flour and the herbs, mixing well with a heavy wooden spoon. Add the remaining flour ½ cup at a time until you have a slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times adding more flour if too sticky. Place in a large bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400º.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured board. Knead a few times. Cut off a piece of dough and working with your hands roll and stretch the piece to a rope approximately 18- 20 inches long. Twist the dough into a pretzel shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let pretzels stand, uncovered for 10 - 20 minutes. Just before baking, prepare the water bath. Use 1 to 1½ cups very hot water (I put the water in a wok shaped pan on the stove and heated) and dissolve 3 Tbs baking soda in the water. Dip the pretzel in the water bath one at a time for about 30 seconds (making sure to dip both sides) and return to baking sheet. Brush the pretzels with pizza sauce and sprinkle with your favorite pizza cheese.
Bake until pretzels are evenly browned, 15 - 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool a few minutes before serving. Pretzels may be served hot or cold!