Alton Brown is my cooking hero. He’s so smart and funny and he can cook like nobody’s business.
And isn’t he just so cute? All nerdy and cook-tastic! And you know you want him to make you a brined turkey.
I am not a girl to swoon over celebrities or go to book signings or what not. But years ago I once went to a mall in St. Petersburg, Florida to wait in line and meet Alton Brown. (No, I didn’t fly cross country to stalk him, I lived there at the time.) He signed both my cookbooks and shook my hand! He had on a shnazzy bowling shirt and was just super nice and friendly. I just wanted to invite him to go hang out and have a drink!
That’s the only time I have ever had the desire to go do such a thing. Only for Alton. And not in a creepy way. In a please-teach-me-the-ways-oh-mighty-chef sort of way.
So when I decided it was time to make pretzel dogs I knew Alton was my man for inspiration. I found a variation of this recipe online. It worked beautifully. These taste and make your house smell just like real soft pretzels. Like the big ones you buy at a ball game.
I prefer them plain with mustard for dipping. But you could brush them with melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Or you could leave off the salt and cover them with cinnamon sugar instead and then dip in honey or jam.
These would probably even be good stuffed with pepperoni and cheese before baking. Lots to experiment with.
Or you can take the dough and wrap it around hot dogs. (Or as Tim thinks I say it, Hawt Dawgs.)
I used to live very close to an Einstein Brothers Bagels. They made the best bagel dogs. I miss that place.
So why not pretzel dogs? So much better than a bun. Unless you make the dough into pretzel buns!
These take a little but aren’t difficult. They are actually just like making bagels. I think Alton would approve of my take on his pretzel.
Soft Pretzels and/or Pretzel Dogs
Modified from an Alton Brown recipe
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
4 1/2 cups flour
6 tbsp melted butter
oil for bowl
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
pretzel salt (I used kosher)
Combine warm water, sugar, kosher salt and dry yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to sit 5 minutes until it begins to foam.
Add the flour and butter. With the bread hook attachment, mix on low speed until combined. Increase speed and allow to mix/knead for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Allow to rise in a warm draft free spot for 50 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
Once doubled, divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each ball to about 24″ long. Make a U shape. Cross the ends over each other & twist. Press ends back downward onto the bottom of the U. This will make the classic pretzel shape. You could also make 16 pretzel sticks. Place the pretzels on 2 a parchment lined sheets. Cover with a clean cloth and set aside.
Bring water and baking soda to a boil. (Don’t use a coated pot) Boil pretzels a couple at a time for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place back on parchment lined tray. Once all the pretzels are boiled, brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Store in an airtight container for a few days or they freeze beautifully.
This will make 8 large soft pretzels. Or I divided it into 8 pieces and used 4 to make 4 large pretzels and then divided the remaining 4 pieces into 2 pieces each (you’ll end up with 8 smaller balls) and rolled them out and wrapped them around hotdogs. Then follow the same steps as making the pretzels by boiling and then baking. Keep pretzel dogs refrigerated.