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2.11.2015

:: Winter time ::





I wrote this last week when we got 14 inches of snow... whoops!








Soft Pretzels


Ingredients:
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (lukewarm, no need to take temperature)
  • 1 packet active instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (8g) granulated sugar
  • 3.75 - 4.25 cups (480-530g) all-purpose flour + more for the counter surface to knead (or mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir with a spoon until fairly mixed, about 1 minute. Some clusters of yeast will remain. Add salt and sugar; stir until fairly combined. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add up to 1/2 cup more. Poke the dough with your finger - if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes and shape into a ball. With a sharp knife, cut ball of dough into 1/3 cup sections. This measurement does not have to be exact - use as much or little dough for each pretzel as you wish - the size of the pretzel is completely up to you.
  4. Roll the dough into a rope with an even diameter. My ropes were twenty inches long. This measurement will depend how large you want the pretzels. Once you have your long rope, take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape. See above for link to visual instructions.
  5. This fifth step is optional.  You can boil 9 cups of water with 2/3 cup of baking soda. Dunk the pretzels one by one into the mixture for 30 seconds.  Read why this is a good option here. But again, it's not necessary and I did not do it for these pretzels.
  6. In a small bowl, beat the egg and pour into a shallow bowl or pie dish. Dunk the shaped pretzel into the egg wash (both sides). Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 425F degrees. Turn the oven to broil and bake for 5 more minutes to brown the tops. Watch closely to avoid burning.
  8. Allow to cool and enjoy. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pretzels may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days (will lose softness). Pretzels freeze well.





Cheese sauce


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk (no substitutions)
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt + pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until you see bubbled forming on the top.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in another saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the top, stirring constantly until a thick paste forms, 1 to 2 minutes.
Slowly add the warm milk to the flour and butter paste in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It should be thick but still pourable. Add the cheese, whisking constantly until it is melted. Add the hot sauce and cayenne. Taste, then add salt and pepper to taste. Add more cayenne and/or hot sauce if preferred.
The sauce will thicken upon cooling. Store leftovers covered tightly in the refrigerator. Heat over stove top or in the microwave before serving again.


























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