Say Cheese! Homemade Cheddar Soft Pretzel Bites are going to be a hit at your next party. Bite sized pieces of soft pretzels can be dipped into cheese or mustard or simply served plain.
Cheese is the ingredient offered by the Twelve Loaves Baking Challenge hosts this month. Barb at Creative Culinary, Lora at Cake Duchess and Jamie at Life’s A Feast have organized this baking fest to encourage home bakers to get creative with breads—all bakers and breads are welcome.
Last month I participated and made an apricot bread which was moist and delicious. This month I chose to make a yeast dough to stretch outside of my comfort zone. I’ve made yeast breads before but still experience that refreshing surprise when the dough actually behaves as it is intended. I was as excited as my three year old as we discovered the change in the dough after letting it rise for an hour—it’s magic!
I followed a soft pretzel recipe found on the Food Network site, though their Almost-Famous Soft Pretzels changed slightly in shape and flavor in my kitchen. I added a healthy dose of cheddar cheese to the dough and the balance of flavors was just right. I made little pretzel bites for two reasons: my dough shaping skills are sub-par and shaping bites proved easier than shaping pretzels. Also, bite-sized finger foods appeal to little fingers and my son was happy with these little pillow-shaped pretzel bites.
1 cup of milk
1 package of active dry yeast
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
For the water bath:
1/3 cup baking soda
2 TB coasre salt
There is no need for a standing mixer. I found more success mixing the ingredients in a bowl then kneading by hand.
Warm the milk for one minute in the microwave at half power, or until the milk is approximately 110 degrees. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
Next, add the brown sugar and one cup of flour. Stir to combine then add the butter and the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour, the cheese (my oversight- I neglected to add the cheese in the original text for this recipe. Thanks to the reader who caught this error!) and the fine salt. The dough will be sticky.
Flour your surface generously then turn the dough onto the floured area. Knead for 5 minutes and the dough will take shape and lose some of the stickiness. Add flour as needed, I found I added at least another 1/2 of flour while kneading.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn the dough a few times then spray a piece of plastic wrap with baking spray and cover the bowl tightly. Let the dough rise for an hour.
Once the dough has doubled in size, continue on to shape the pretzel bites. Cut the dough into six to eight pieces. Stretch and shape the dough into long pieces about an inch wide. Cut small pieces—like little pillows—of the dough.
Next take the baking soda and dissolve it by whisking it into three cups of warm water. Quickly dip the cheddar pretzel dough into the mixture then space them on a baking pan. Shred a small bit of cheddar cheese on top of the pieces of dough. Sprinkle with salt then bake in a 425 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.
These cheddar pretzel bites are perfect for football food, great for kids, and easy to make for an afternoon snack. At my house, these little fingers couldn’t resist reaching for just one more!