What's the best thing about Super Bowl Sunday? The food, of course! If you're contributing a dish to a potluck party, don't be that guy or gal who brings a boring old bag of chips. Why not take a little time and show up with something unexpected and delicious?
Enter: The pretzel
It doesn't take the skills of an 80-year-old German grandmother to achieve such perfectly plump twists. Even the most novice baker can come out with a decent-looking product. The only thing you need is time, a little patience and the courage to try something new.
1 tbsp. of yeast (or 1 package), dissolved for 5 mins in 1/4 cup warm water and 2 tsp. sugar (proofed)
4 1/4 cup bread flour (you could use all-purpose, but bread flour is ideal)
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tbsp. salted butter
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/4 cup baking soda
Salt, large flakes like Kosher salt are best
Make the pretzel dough: Add the flour into a large bowl (or stand mixer). Add the salt and proofed yeast and one cup of warm water. Mix in stand mixer with dough hook (or by hand) until mixture comes together into a stiff ball. Feel free to add a little more water if needed to form dough.
Once dough is formed, knead for 5 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes. Add butter and knead until butter is fully incorporated (again, about 5 minutes). Dough should become velvety and soft. Form dough into a ball, butter all surfaces and place inside a large bowl. Place in a warm place and let rise for one hour.
NOTE: You can prepare the dough the day before if you want to save time. Simply place the dough in the fridge overnight after you've allowed it to rise for an hour.
Twist the pretzels: Place the ball of dough on a very lightly floured surface. Degas, or punch down, the dough and divide into about 12, 2-ounce pieces. Roll out the dough balls into 1-foot long strands, thicker in the middle and tapering down on the ends. You can add a little water while shaping if need be.
Roll the strands out again, this time rolling them to about 2-feet long. Twist into a pretzel shape — simply use the image at the top of this page as a guide. Feel free to dab a little water to make the ends of the twisted dough stick. Place formed pretzels onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and place in refrigerator for 30-40 minutes. This stiffens the dough and makes them less likely to lose their shape during the dipping process (explained below).
Make the baking soda dip: Traditional pretzels are made with a dip of food grade lye, but it's not readily available in stores and you probably don't want to bother with the caustic stuff on game day. Luckily, baking soda and brown sugar (or barley syrup) can be substituted to achieve a similar effect: That delicious dark, crunchy exterior.
While the pretzels are resting in the fridge, bring 8 cups of water to a rapid simmer in a large stock pot. Add the baking soda and brown sugar and stir to dissolve. The baking soda will cause the water to foam up, so beware. Reduce to medium heat and maintain a simmer. Gently lower a few pretzels into the pot, enough so it's not crowded. Boil for about 30 seconds.
Remove pretzels with slotted spoon or spatula and arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with Kosher or pretzel salt.
Time to bake!: Once all of your boiled and salted pretzels are arranged on the baking sheet, place them in the preheated oven (should be 375°F). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they reach the desired darkness. When done baking, take pretzels off the cookie sheet and allow to cool on a rack, if possible (you can also let them cool on the cookie sheet, just run a spatula under them so they don't stick).
Serve: Pretzels are best the day they're baked, so try to time them to be done around game time. They're basically a blank canvas. You can pair them with any number of dips, from mustard to hot cheese dip to artichoke. Pair with gherkins, sliced salami or cheese. If you want to get really creative, try sprinkling parmesan cheese before baking. There are really no rules!
Not a pretzel fan? Try these quick and easy recipes:
As difficult as it is for me to admit, I know not everyone is an enamored with pretzels. In case you don't have time for the recipe above, we've collected here a few other recipes that should be just as easy and crowd-pleasing:
- 3 Avocados, preferably of Mexican origin
- 1 1/2 Limes, their juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Chile Pasilla Oaxaqueño, seedless, finely chopped
- 1 small tomato, finely chopped
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
Grind the avocados in a mortar or a food processor and add the lime juice, cumin and salt. Mix in the Chiles, tomatoes, onion and shallot and stir with a spoon. Add more salt if needed. Chile pasilla can de be substituted with a chipotle or two chiles de arbol. You can toast the chiles on a pan or griddle for a smokier flavor. Serves 4-6
Feed your favorite football fans this homemade chili topped with sharp cheddar and tortilla chips. Quick, easy, and vegetarians can simply substitute sausage for any vegetarian ground meat or more vegetables.
Sweet Chili Lime Wings
Who needs the same old buffalo wings? Try this healthier baked sweet lime wing recipe.
Do you have any fantastic Super Bowl recipes to share? Tell us about what you're planning to make in the comments below or on the KPCC Facebook page!