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Game Day — Cheese Filled Pretzels

Game Day Pretzels

A pretzel is a heavenly delight that comes soft and chewy or crunchy and crispy, shaped in various forms and salted by the gods themselves.    

I had no idea that the simple pretzels had so much history.  It seems that there are numerous accounts on the origin of this looped treat.  Most of them agree that they have religious backgrounds and were first served by monks.  One story has an Italian monk using the strips of baked dough, twisted to resemble the arms crossing the chest, as a reward to children who studied their prayers.  He called them ‘pretiola’ meaning little rewards.  In Germany, it is thought that pretzels were the invention of desperate bakers.  It is suspected that the German pretzel was the result of a ban of heathen baking traditions in the form of sun wheels. The German term ‘brezel’ is said to have Latin origins and was a medieval term for bracelet.   

As to why some pretzels are hard and crunchy while other are soft, it is said that one night a baker fell asleep while baking a batch and all the moisture was cooked out of them – hence the hard pretzel.  Well, I did not fall asleep while baking mine and they turned out great … soft and chewy with little crunchy “cheese skirts”.  Because these are not boiled, they tend to be more bread like.  This recipe offers lots of opportunity to swap out certain ingredients for others of your choice.  If sharp cheddar is not to your liking but something spicy is, try a pepper jack with red chili powder.   My 13 year old nephew has placed a request for pepperoni to be added to my next batch!   These pretzels are best served warm or the day you baked them.  But like pizza heated up the day after, they may be a bit chewy but none the less good to eat! 

I may never beat Helen Hoff’s (a world champion pretzel twister) record of twisting 57 in a minute, but I did roll a respectable pretzel.  Now it’s your turn.    

Game Day Pretzels

Guy’s Knot for Nuthin, Everything Pretzel
Adapted from a recipe by Guy Fieri  
Makes 12  

Ingredients   

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, 110 degrees F
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper  (I used chipotle pepper.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic  (I used garlic powder)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs  (one for dough and one for egg wash)
  • 3 cups grated sharp Cheddar  (use your favorite)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2  Tablespoon poppy seeds to sprinkle on top
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt to sprinkle on top

Directions  
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.   

In a glass measuring cup, add the warm water and the yeast. If you have a digital read thermometer check to make sure the temperature is about 110 degrees.  Stir and let sit for 10 minutes.   

In a food processor fitted with a dough blade, add the dry ingredients and the Parmesan cheese.  Pulse together 3 times at 5 second intervals.   This gives it a good mix.  Add 1 egg and the warm water/yeast mixture.   Pulse for 10 second intervals until the dough comes together.  (This happens quickly.  If the dough “looks” too moist add a bit more flour and pulse again.)  

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead.

  Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead 10 to 12 times, adding a little flour, if sticky.  Shape into a ball and cut the dough in half.   (I found this dough to be a dream to work with!)

Divide into to even sections.

  Roll out 1 piece of dough to a 12 by 17-inch rectangle.  It will be about a 1/4-inch thick.   

Ready to add the cheese.

Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the Cheddar in the middle third of the dough (short way).  Fold 1/3 of the dough over, and sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the Cheddar.  Fold the last third over and pinch the edges closed.  (It is kind of like a 3-fold brochure.)  

Step 1: Cheese down the middle third of the dough.

Step 2: Fold one edge over and put a layer of cheese.

Step 3: Fold remaining dough over the cheese and pinch the edges.

 Roll with a rolling pin to form an 11 by 15-inch rectangle.  Cut into 1 1/2-inch lengthwise strips (6 strips per half of dough.)  Pinch the cut edges together and then roll into cigar shape.  Form into a pretzel shape and put on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Repeat with the second ball of dough.  

Rolled out again and sliced into 1 1/2 inch strips.

Form the strips of dough into a cigar shape.

Twisting Technique Step 1: Cross ends

Twisting Techinque Step 2: Twist the ends once.

Twisting Technique Step 3: Bring end up and press them into the top pretzel edge. Shape the pretzel.

Beat the remaining egg and the milk in a small bowl.  Next, brush the formed pretzels with the egg/milk mixture and sprinkle with the salt and poppy seeds.   Be creative with your toppings … you can try granulated garlic salt, sesame seeds … the choices are endless!   

Twisted, washed with egg & milk mixture and toppings added.

Bake until nicely browned, about 16 to 18 minutes.  I found that 17 to 18 minutes worked for me.  Remove from the oven to a wire rack.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Just out of the oven ... look at the crunchy "cheese skirts".

This close up shows the melted cheese on the outside of the pretzel.

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Hamburger Buns in 40 minutes … that’s what the recipe says!

YES, THIS IS A 40 MINUTE RECIPE!
You will never catch me with store bought hamburger buns ever again!
I used my KitchenAid stand mixer to mix and knead the dough.

Yep, sesame seed hamburger buns in 40 minutes!

Yep, sesame seed hamburger buns in 40 minutes!

Hamburger bun topped with shredded cheese.

Hamburger bun topped with shredded cheese, a blend of Monterey Jack salsa, Monterey Jack with jalapeno peppers and cheddar.

Onion topped hamburger bun.

Onion topped hamburger bun.

40-Minute Hamburger Buns
adapted from a recipe from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water – 110° to 115°    (I did use an instant read thermometer to confirm temperature.)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg   (I like to use egg at room temperature.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour   (used almost the full 3 and 1/2 cups.)
  • Directions:

    In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  (I used my KitchenAid mixer, so I put yeast and warm water in the mixing bowl.)  Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the egg, salt  and enough flour to form a soft dough.  (Put the paddle attachment on your mixer.  Add flour and mix on a lower speed until you form a soft dough.  The dough will be a bit soft and sticky.)

    Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.   (Remove the paddle attachment.  Scrape any dough off the paddle and return to the mixing bowl.  Attach the bread hook and let the machine knead, low to medium low speed, the dough for 4 to 5 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead slightly by hand, adding small amounts of flour to make the dough less sticky to work with.)

    It is not necessary to let the dough rise.  Divide into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 inches apart on greased baking sheets.   (If you divide the dough into 12 pieces you will have very small buns.  I weighed out 4.5 to 4.75 ounce portions and got 7  good-sized hamburger buns.  It is important to leave a good amount of space between the buns on the baking sheet as they do spread and raise while baking.  I lined the baking sheets with parchment paper and sprayed with Pam, flour added, cooking spray.)     Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  (Once I had formed the dough balls and placed on the baking sheet, I covered with a clean kitchen towel for 10 minutes.  Just before baking I brushed the tops of the dough balls with an eggwash.  At this time, I added the sesame seeds, shredded cheese or the onion topping.)

    Bake at 425° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.   (The larger buns took about 13 to 15 minutes to bake.)  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 1 dozen.  (Debbie got 7 good-sized buns.)

    DEBBIE’S ONION TOPPING FOR HAMBURGER BUNS:  For the life of me, I could not find any info on how to make the onion topping for the buns like I see in the grocery store bakery.  You know … those sticky, soft, slightly sweet onion pieces baked into the tops of the buns.   After much thought, I decided to use Lipton Onion soup mix in the packets.  I shook the packet to distribute the dried onions and the seasoning as evenly as possible.  Measure out about 3 tablespoons of the onion soup mixture and add just enough really hot water to reconstitute the onions.  Let the onion mixture soak in the water while you make the dough.  When you are ready to top the hamburger bun, brush it with egg wash.  Squeeze out any excess water from the onion mixture.  I put the onion mixture between paper towels and pressed to extract the extra liquid.   Sprinkle the onions on top of the buns and bake according to the directions above.

    Hand shaped dough balls ready to be covered and left to rest for 10 minutes.

    Hand shaped dough balls ready to be covered and left to rest for 10 minutes.

    Dough balls that have rested for 10 minutes and then topped with onions.  Ready to bake.

    Dough balls that have rested for 10 minutes, been brushed with an egg wash and then topped with onions. Ready to bake.

    Hamburger buns for the cook-out.

    Hamburger buns for the cook-out.

    Buns ready ... burgers on the grill!

    Buns ready ... burgers on the grill!

    40 minute hamburger buns.

    40 minute hamburger buns.

    The 40 minute hamburger buns lasted about 30 minutes!

    The 40 minute hamburger buns lasted about 20 minutes!