There are many wondrous things available at the Amish market in Annapolis. But Toby’s favorite is the pretzel dog. We have our friend Jose to thank for that, actually, because we may never have stood in the ridiculously long line for one if he hadn’t told us about them.
Anyway, we don’t live in Annapolis anymore, which means no more Saturday pretzel dogs. But for Toby’s birthday this summer, I thought I should try making some.
Let me warn you: These are incredibly delicious, but they require some time and effort. So they’re not exactly weeknight dinner fare.
They are perfect for a birthday or party, though. Especially a sports-related party.
So. First you need to make the pretzel dough. Duh. This involves yeast, but don’t be alarmed. Just make sure you have more than one packet, just in case your first packet is sub-par.
Then, you’re going to need to roll the dough around the hotdogs. I got the recipe and method from Joy the Baker, who is totally awesome. She cut her hotdogs in half, and since that looks cuter and less… um… whatever, I did it too.
Something else I didn’t know before this little experiment: Pretzels get all pretzel-y because you boil the dough in water with a ton of baking soda in it. Then you bake the boiled dough, and viola! Yumtasticness.
If you click over to Joy’s blog (and you definitely should — she has an insane amount of amazing recipes on there), you’ll notice that her mini pretzel dogs look at lot prettier than mine. I suspect that is because she is better at dough-wrangling than me. But trust me: Even imperfect dough wrangling yields tasty results.
A bit of cheese oozed out of most of them, but there are worse things that could happen. If you’re really careful about getting the dough pressed together, though, the cheese may stay inside.
True fact: Boys love pretzels. Especially pretzels wrapped around hotdogs and cheese.
Cheesy mini pretzel dogs (Adapted from Joy the Baker, who adapted it from Alton Brown, makes 16 mini dogs)
1 1/2 cups very warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Roughly 14 cups water
1 cup baking soda
1 large egg
8 hotdogs (normal sized)
8 slices cheese (I used Kraft singles)
Sea salt or other pretzel salt
Combine the warm water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, then sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Wait 5 minutes. If the mixture hasn’t started to get foamy, throw it away and start again. If it has, put the dough hook on the mixer and proceed.
Add the flour, salt and melted butter to the frothy yeast water. Mix the dough on low speed (using the dough hook) until everything is combined. Turn the speed up to medium and let the mixer run until the dough is smooth and creates a ball around the hook. Continue beating for about 4 more minutes.
Take the dough out of the bowl, then clean the bowl up a bit and coat it with some vegetable oil. Put the dough back in the bowl and sprinkle flour on top. Cover the dough and place the bowl in a warm place (not too hot, like inside the oven, or the dough will rise too fast). After about an hour, the dough should be doubled in size.
Line baking sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper brushed with oil. Preheat the oven to 425. Put the water in a large pot and stir in the baking soda. Bring the water to a boil.
Beat the egg with a tiny bit of water in a small bowl.
While water is coming to a boil, take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a lightly floured or oiled work surface. Divide the dough into 16 pieces.
Cut the hotdogs and cheese slices in half.
Take one piece of dough and roll it out, using both hands, until you have a roughly foot-long piece of dough that looks like a rope. Wrap a half-slice of cheese around a half-hotdog and place in the center of the dough rope. Carefully wrap the dough around the hotdog, sealing the edges and ends.
Continue until all hotdogs are wrapped.
When water is boiling, use a metal spatula to place a few pretzel dogs into the pot. Leave them in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then remove. Place the boiled, wrapped dogs on the baking sheet.
After all dogs are boiled, brush them with a little of the egg/water mixture, then sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake until the pretzels are… pretzel colored. This will take 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Allow the pretzel dogs to cool slightly before serving, lest you burn your mouth with molten cheese.