Hooray! I’m watching a substandard Pro Bowl — which by pro-football standards is already a very, very low standard — with third-choice players, a rainy field and tens of thousands of other football fans who all agree; even bad football is better than the best the Grammys have to offer. (By the way, how is it that even with moving the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl, it manages to be the same weekend as the Grammys again?)
The good news is we’ve decided to stay in for this years Pro Bowl. The last time Holly and I blogged the game from Big Wangs, we had to ask the waitress to switch from “Napa Wine Today” for the game. This also means we have an excuse to revisit one the best recipes from this year’s Friday Football Foodie series, Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites with Beer Floats! Do you remember how awesome they were?
Those really do look awesome! Totally worthy of selection into the Football Foodie Pro Bowl. But guess what? Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites was injured during the Packers-Cardinals playoff game (injury report, Cheese – bruised ego, OT loss), and declined to make the trip to dangerously melty-warm Miami.
Never fear though, we have the equally awesome Pretzel Bread for backup!
That is, if Ray Lewis’s evil cackling doesn’t cause our bread to go flat. Who’s idea was it to wire Ray-Ray for sound during this game?
You will need…
1/3 cup warm water and 1 cup warm water (105º-115º)
2 tablespoons warm milk (105º-115º)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (The amount in one packet of dry yeast. Have an extra one on hand in case the first batch yeast does not activate.)
1/3 cup brown sugar (Light or dark, whatever you have on hand.)
2 tablespoons butter, melted (2 more if you want a softer crust.)
4 cups all-purpose flour
kosher salt or pretzel salt
1/2 cup baking soda
Water for the stock pot
In the bottom of large bowl, mix together yeast and 1/3 cup of warm water. Let sit until it gets foamy. If six or seven minutes have passed by and you have no sign of bubbles, toss out and try again with slightly warmer water.
Once foamy, mix in two tablespoons of melted butter, brown sugar, warm milk, and one cup of very warm water.
Working one cup at at time (that’s what she said!), mix the flour into yeast mixture until completely incorporated.
Working on a clean, floured surface, kneed the dough for two or three minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour to the dough as you kneed and lightly grease your hands with vegetable oil.
If you want to make a dozen smaller rolls, divide into pieces now. If you want to to make a 2-4 smaller loaves, leave as one big piece for now. Cover with plastic wrap.
Then cover with damp, warm towel. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Remove the towel and if you need to make into smaller loaves — I recommend four smaller, wide loaves instead of rolls — then recover with plastic wrap only. Let rest for another 40-60 minutes.
While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 425º. Fill a large, wide-mouthed stock pot 3/4 of the way with water and bring to a boil.
Slowly pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the boiling water.
One loaf at a time, boil the dough for one minute on each side and then remove from the bath.
If you have perfectly shaped bread, cut little slits into the top of each loaf so the dough has a way to expand while baking. If your loaves already cracked like mine did [insert an ugly Pro Bowl replacement joke here], then you’re in good shape.
Sprinkle with kosher salt and then bake until deep brown, about 20-25 minutes.
If you want softer loaves, brush the bread with melted butter. But since you’re not a 12 year-old mallrat (I hope) skip that step.
If you want to add more salt, don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little more on while the pretzel bread first starts cooling. The steam from the bread will make it stick to the bread.
Slice into biscotti-sized pieces and serve with mustard for dipping. If you want a crunchier bread, put the slices back into a 325º oven for five minutes. Can be made up to three days beforehand, and reheated and sliced the day of your Super Bowl party.
Day 6 – 14 Days of Super Bowl Recipes: Wasabi Peas
Day 5 – 14 Days of Super Bowl Recipes: New Orleans Style Pimm’s Cups & Cucumber Tapas
Day 4 – 14 Days of Super Bowl Recipes: Smokey Cowboy Caviar
Day 3 – 14 Days of Super Bowl Recipes: Citrus Marinated Warm Olives
Day 2 – 14 Days of Super Bowl Recipes: Fried Chickpeas (Ceci Fritos)
Day 1 – 14 Days of Super Bowl Recipes: Salted Honey Roasted Pecans