One of the things sold at Kevin's school that is sort of popular, next to those instant noodle cups, are pizza pretzels. Made with white flour, smeared with pizza sauce, and sprinkled with poppy seeds, lots of kids buy them to eat for lunch. I think they are kind of gross, to be honest.
Awhile ago I was reading over at A Peek Inside the Fishbowl, and I noticed that Andrea had a soft pretzel recipe, so it just seemed natural to take the on the pretzels this week. Can we do from scratch? Will they be any good? Jake watched as I rolled, then boiled, and baked these-the smell of bread filling the house, until he couldn't stand it any longer and descended on a newly baked pretzel for a snack.
"Oh my GOD, Mom!" His mouth full, his eyes shining, he plucked crispy bits of cheese off the edges. "This is the best pizza pretzel EVER. Make them for my lunch. PLEASE."
Baked ahead of time, wrapped and frozen, they would make a delicious addition to any lunchbox. You could even get the kids involved in rolling and make it a fun weekend activity!
Adapted from A Peek Inside the Fishbowl
1 Tbsp sugar
1 package of rapid rise yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups all purpose white flour
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup pizza sauce
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and yeast. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of warm water, stirring until it forms a ragged dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for about 8 minutes. The dough will be a bit sticky still. I used my mixer with a dough hook for this step, which was great. You can do that too.
Coat the inside of a large, clean bowl with some olive oil and place in the dough, turning to coat all over. Cover and set aside to rise until double in size for 45 minutes.
Punch down the dough to get rid of some of the air bubbles. Cut (don't rip) the dough into 8 equal portions, and roll each out into a long, thin log about 24 inches long. Twist each into a pretzel shape. Set on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Let rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, get a big pot of water boiling on the stove and turn the oven on to 425 F.
Boil each pretzel for 3 minutes per side, flipping over after 1 1/2 minutes. Removed from the boiling water with a slotted spoon. They do puff up nicely, and I did 2 pretzels at a time. When all the pretzels are finished, brush them with the beaten egg. If you plan to make plain soft pretzels, sprinkle them lightly with coarse salt and bake for 30-35 minutes.
For pizza pretzels, brush lightly with the egg wash, omit the salt, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and smear the tops with pizza sauce, then sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese. Return the pretzels to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Now if you can't eat all 8 pretzels (and I'll bet that they are a lot), then wrap them in cling film, then tin foil and freeze for another day. Or you can store them in a ziplock baggie on the counter for a day or two. They are absolutely delicious fresh though, and totally beat out any store bought pizza pretzel I've ever had.