When I spent two months in Munich for an internship during my time as a student, the huge pretzels sold everywhere were one of my favorite snacks. They are crunchy on the outside and, if fresh, super soft and a little warm on the inside. I haven't found really great ones here, so when I found a recipe for "German-Style Pretzels" in Food & Wine magazine, I decided to give it a try. I also remembered that I had a recipe for pretzels with bacon from another cook book. Pretzel dough baked with some cheese is another favorite snack of mine, so I combined all these influences and made the following recipe. The pretzels were simply delicious, though I say so myself.
14 oz bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup warm water
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup baking soda
10 thin slices bacon
6 slices sharp cheddar cheese or cheese of your choice (e.g. swiss, american, gruyere, gouda....)
coarse pretzel salt for sprinkling
If using a bread machine, place warm water, salt, butter, flour, and yeast into bowl. Use kneading program and let dough knead for about 20 minutes. Switch off machine and let dough rest for about 10 minutes. If you don't have a bread machine, you can use an electric mixer with a dough hook for kneading, or your hands. Cut cheese into 1/4 inch wide strips and divide into 10 parts. Divide dough into five equal parts. Roll each part of dough into an 18-20 inch long rope that tapers at the ends, thereby enclosing 1/10 of the cheese into each roll. Form a U shape, then cross ends twice to make the twist. Bring the ends to the bottom of the U and gently press down. Put pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes until volume is increased a bit. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Preheat oven to 400°F. With a sharp knife, make an incision along the whole length of the pretzel (spare the crossed part). Carefully dissolve baking soda in the boiling water (add in several steps as it will boil violently). Boil each pretzel for 30 seconds, then put onto a wire rack. Stuff the remaining cheese into the incision of each pretzel. Wrap two slices of bacon around the cheese-stuffed part of the pretzel. Sprinkle the non-cheese&bacon part of the pretzels with salt. Put pretzels back on the baking sheet and bake for about 15-18 minutes until they are shiny-brown and risen.
(This post is linked to www.katharinemartinelli.com)