While I do like to be adventurous when it comes to live sport snacks (ever tried a pickle egg?) there is some real snack fatigue going on. Unless some idiot decides to bring along some fresh fruit, you’re usually in for a safe ride of crisps, peanuts or the recently popular wasabi peas.
England were hardly good football material this year, so perhaps my enthusiasm for live sport snacks waned simultaneously with their goal scoring abilities. My predicament is that this is the year of sport in England, so I’ve got mountains of junk food to consume. Unless of course I can somehow find a better alternative.
I have no idea where the itch for pretzels came from. Perhaps it was the overly ambitious dream of meeting Germany in the semi finals. Maybe it was the desire to outshine Dave and his microbrew beer selection. Either way, I found the perfect mini pretzel recipe to remake at Smitten Kitchen, so decided to give it a go.
Look I won’t lie to you, this wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. First there’s the dough, then the incredibly complicated fold, followed by poaching and finally they get baked. So a long process, but one that makes you look super flash on the snack front.
What you’ll need make roughly 28 – 30 small pretzels
440ml warm water
3 tablespoons of castor sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
750g all-purpose flour and some for dusting
1 tablespoon of salt
2 teaspoons of olive oil
37g baking soda
1 large egg
Pour 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the warm water and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top and leave for ten minutes until it starts to foam. Then add 150g of the flour (a handful will do) and combine with a wooden spoon. Gradually add the rest of the flour, a handful at a time until the dough feels a little stretchy. If wet and sticky, just add a little bit more flour. Then knead for about a minute. Pour the oil into a large bowl, coat and pop in the dough mix. Lay a tea towel over the top and leave in a warm spot for an hour or so.
Take the dough out, give it a little punch in the middle to remove the air and knead a couple of times. Flatten it out and cut into 28 pieces. As even as you can, but don’t worry if they’re not perfect.
This was complicated. I mean really complicated. Plus if you’re not careful, they end up looking like a little salty poop and that’s never a good feature for a snack. Roll each piece into a 30cm strip before you fold. I laid out a ruler in advance and kept rolling to that length. For some reason it seemed impossible to roll on a floured surface. Try it on a clean worktop if you’re struggling.
To fold you need to adopt the lasso approach which just seemed impossible. An over eager employee from Auntie Annie shows you how, but I couldn’t muster it. So I ended up with the flip, twist and hope for the best approach. If you can do it better, please share and gloat because you’ll deserve the credit. Once you’ve mastered the technique, leave them for 15 minutes on a grease proof papered tray to rise a little.
Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the baking powder and stand back till it settles, then add the remaining sugar. Gently drop three at a time into the water and poach for around 30 seconds on each side. Drain, then transfer back onto the grease proof papered tray. I managed to only do eight at a time on a tray
Beat the egg and brush each of the pretzels with the glaze. Sprinkle the salt on top and pop into a hot 230 degree over (gas mark 8) until golden brown. It’s amazing how good they look and I was proud as punch when they came out.
Now any good sporting snack needs a good dip to dunk it in. I tried to get flash with a red pepper chilli dip, but it was a little too fresh. Mustard is the most traditional, but what’s mustard without a bit of salt beef. The best I found was cream cheese with heaps of ground black pepper. Sadly, my posh snack didn’t help England through to the next round, but we’ve still got Wimbledon and the Olympics to go.
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