If you can't make it to watch your favorite baseball team on Opening Day this year, turn your home into spectator central by gathering everyone 'round the big screen and serving up some stadium foods. Hot dogs, peanuts, and, of course, beer. Be sure to pass around fresh, hot soft pretzels, too (since most of you prefer them to their crispy counterparts). Serve them as a pre-dinner snack with coarse salt and spicy brown mustard — or studded with chocolate chips as a portable dessert. Which one suits your taste best? Decide when you read more.
1 pound store-bought pizza dough, thawed if frozen
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1/3 cup finely chopped nuts or 1/2 cup chopped chocolate or 2 tablespoons fennel seed
Olive oil, for bowl and baking sheet
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse sugar
- Place dough on a lightly floured work surface; sprinkle with nuts, chocolate, or fennel seed. Gently knead to incorporate. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 1 hour.
- Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope. To shape dough into pretzels, form each dough rope into a U-shape and twist ends twice. Fold twisted end down and pinch to secure (see below). Transfer pretzels to an oiled baking sheet and let rest 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add baking soda. In batches, boil pretzels until puffed and slightly shiny, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a wire rack to drain. Return pretzels to baking sheet; sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Serve warm or at room temperature. (To store, keep at room temperature, up to 2 days.)
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
4-1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons table salt
1 large egg, separated
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and yeast; let stand for 5 minutes.
- Using a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, brown sugar and table salt. Mix in the egg yolk, butter and yeast mixture on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
- In a large, shallow baking dish, combine the baking soda with 2 cups warm water. On a work surface, divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll out each piece into a rope about 42 inches long; dip in the baking soda mixture for 30 seconds. Using the prepared pans as a work surface, shape each rope into a pretzel.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the pretzels with the egg white mixture. Sprinkle with the coarse salt and bake until deep golden, 12 to 15 minutes.