Jalapeno Cheddar Soft Pretzels
I first started baking about two years ago because Brooke's brother and sister-in-law, Taylor + Kelsey, told us to watch the Great British Baking Show on Netflix. We instantly fell in love with the show because of the British accents, creative creations and the fact that they are all hobbyist's who bake because they love it. I tried my hand at a Pumpkin roll, a few loaves of bread and then the hobby faded into the background as life took over.
Enter 2018: which from a family perspective has been a great year - new baby, happy marriage and a goofy 3-year-old running wild around our house, while singing a song she made up with the lyrics, "McConey, McConey...How are you?" Good luck getting that out of your head.
On the other side of our life, business has been a more difficult road in 2018. And as I pursue the Lord during this season I hear Him saying to me to lay it down at His feet. To trust Him and not depend on my strengths and skills. Easier said than done, if I'm honest.
Recently, Netflix released another season of The British Baking Show and of course we watched the whole thing in less than a week, and that's when I started baking as an act of active surrender.
A few times a week I pull the mixer out of the cabinet, grab my bag of flour and start baking. It's so far removed from what I do for my job, that I use the time I spend in the kitchen as a way of proclaiming, "God, take this time as an active surrender. This is me, not trying to sell more, do more or earn more. This is me surrendering."
Baking is not a quick hobby, especially when you like making bread, which I do. It takes time for things to mix, prove (rise) and bake. I also love to tinker with recipes I find online, trying different ingredients and textures. (That's how the jalapeno cheddar pretzels were born!)
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to lay something down, maybe it's time to pick something up - like a bag of flour, a box of old paints or a notebook. You never know what the Lord will do with that time.
One recipe I've made a few times is this King Arthur Hot Buttered Soft Pretzel Recipe. If you want the original recipe head over to King Arthur's site, which is my favorite place to find recipes and also my favorite flours to use.
Here is a version I've created called Jalapeno Cheddar Soft Pretzels. Enjoy!
JALAPENO CHEDDAR SOFT PRETZELS
Makes 8 Pretzels | Total Time: 60-90 minutes
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast*
1 c. warm water
Sea salt or pretzel salt
2 seeded + finely diced jalapenos
1 c. boiling water
2 tbsp. baking soda
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. melted butter
* If you don't have instant yeast, but instead have active yeast, that's ok! Just add your active yeast and the warm water to the bowl first and let it bubble and activate for a few minutes before adding the remaining dough ingredients to the mixer.
** As you can see from the photos, we made Original Soft Pretzels and Jalapeno Cheddar. You can easily make the original version by excluding the diced jalapenos and cheddar cheese from the ingredients above. :)
To Make The Dough:
1. Mixing by hand, or with a mixer, place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and warm water into a bowl. Mix until well combined. Knead the dough by hand for about five minutes, until it becomes soft and smooth. Place in a large glass bowl covered tightly with cling wrap, and allow to rest/rise for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, seed and dice the jalapenos, and shred the cheddar cheese (if using a block of cheese), and set aside.
3. Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until soda is dissolved. Pour into a 9x9 baking dish and let cool to room temperature.
4. Preheat your oven to 475. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with oil if you don't have parchment).
5. Working on a lightly greased surface, remove the dough from the bowl and divide into eight equal pieces. This is easily done by cutting the dough in half, and then again, and again. (Math is hard, I know. But I believe in you!) Allow pieces to rest for 5 minutes.
6. Sprinkle your oiled surface with the desired amount of diced jalapenos. Roll each piece of dough into the peppers, collecting them as you go, (kinda like when you use a big piece of play-doh to pick up all the little leftover crumbs.) Roll into a long, thin rope. (About 24" long.) Twist into a pretzel shape and place into the baking soda/water bath, spooning water on top making sure to cover all parts of the pretzel. Let rest in water for 2 minutes before placing on the baking sheet.
7. Sprinkle lightly with pretzel salt, and then let them rest 10 more minutes.
8. Bake for 8-9 minutes total, removing them to quickly add cheese to the tops around the 5-minute mark.
9. Remove from the oven and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. I know it seems like a lot of butter, but just for it. It's what will make the pretzels really taste like "the real deal!"
10. Eat the warm pretzels. All of them. Cause they're delicious.