I don't know about where you live but in every mall around me you can find a soft pretzel shop that practically sucks you in every time you walk by. You may not even be craving a pretzel but one sniff of those soft and buttery creations and you find yourself in line (I am speaking from experience of course). Well I was craving pretzels the other day and have previously made pretzels but I decided to try something new to create a snack my family could eat today and also down the road: pretzel bites. The thing about making your own soft pretzels is that they are not good a few hours after making them-they are something that needs to be made and eaten relatively quickly. So even if you wanted to have some for another day you can't just whip up a huge batch and save them. You can however freeze them and bake them later, and that is just what I did.
First lets start with the recipe: (this recipe makes enough pretzel bites to feed a family of 4 in one sitting-if they are all very hungry)
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour (I actually used 2 cups all purpose flour and one cup whole wheat flour. I also added 1 1/2 tsp gluten enhancer because of the whole wheat flour)
1 pkg or 3 tsp of QUICK RISE yeast (make sure you check that you are using the right kind of yeast. A regular yeast will mean you will need to let this dough rise differently. Quick rise yeast is the way to go)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
2 tbsp canola oil
2 quarts water
1/3 cup baking soda
1 egg white slightly beaten
In a large mixing bowl combine 1 1/4 cups flour (if using gluten enhancer add it too), yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add very warm water (120-130 F) and oil to flour mixture. Blend until moistened; beat 3 mins at medium speed. Add remaining flour and mix to form a stiff dough (stiff means not real sticky but it doesn't mean hard as a rock so don't get carried away adding flour. I found that 3 cups was perfect). Continue mixing (if using a Bosch or Kitchen Aid) for 5-8 minutes (or knead by hand). Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top of the dough (put a little bit of oil in the bottom of a bowl, spread it all around, place your dough in the bowl, then using your hand turn it and flip the oiled side up to the top). Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place in a warm place to rise until light and doubled (about 30 minutes). (I put mine in the window in the sun. It took almost exactly 30 minutes).
Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly (and this means very lightly) floured surface. Now is where we are straying from the recipe instructions to my instructions.
Break off a ball of dough about enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Roll into a snake like piece about an inch thick. Cut into sections with a knife or scraper.
NOTE: after getting these out of the freezer my salt seemed to have disappeared so beware and perhaps save the salting until you are ready to eat them. Now if you want to freeze some for later this is where you would do that. Place the whole cookie sheet in your freezer. Leave the cookie sheet in there until the pretzels are frozen solid, then transfer into storage bags or containers. Store in the freezer.