Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Ham, Cheese and Jalapeno Stuffed Pretzels

You may realise as you're looking down my blog that although baking is my passion; it's the savouries that hold my heart. I'm willing to admit to being a horrendous carb-loader, but it's also that sweet just isn't something we do in our house and so as nice as my brownies and banana bread are, they usually go to waste unless I can palm them off on friends (which is surprisingly hard given that it's free food.) Having said that, my family are suckers for anything that contains cheese, meat or bread, and so when I found this recipe on pinterest - which you can follow me on here - (although the actually recipe is from Baker By Nature) it was unanimously decided that this would be this weekend's project. I did have an issue with this but we'll get around to that.

There's one thing about this recipe that I love, and one thing about it that I hate and they both boil down to the same thing: It's an American recipe. This pleases me because I get to use cups which is so much easier than throwing flour back and forth to end up bang on the right amount, but it also means a vital ingredient was hard to get hold of. Irregardless, if you haven't got any cups you can grab some from pretty much any supermarket, I think mine are Asda. The dough itself is easy; add 1.5 cups of warm water, a pack of instant yeast (usually they come in 7g sachets), 1.5 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt into a bowl and leave to froth (or for around ten minutes). Then add 4.25 cups of plain flour and 6 tablespoons of unsalted very soft butter (it has to be very soft to measure it out in tablespoons anyway). Literally chuck this in a mixer with a dough hook and mix on medium for about 12 minutes (it should be like bread dough, smooth and elasticy but not sticky to touch). Leave in a covered bowl for an hour or until your dough is roughly twice the size it was.

Now comes the fun bit, and the bit that wasn't quite to plan! Split the dough into eight even balls and roll out into long sausage shapes. Press down so they're almost flat and fill with ham, cheese and jalapeno, or whatever your chosen ingredients. The original recipe calls for about 225g of ham (I used parma), the same again of cheese (I used a really strong swiss cheese) and about half of that of jalapenos. I used less than that and had tons left over so I'd say sort of half a block of cheese, a regular packet of about eight slices of parma ham and one of the little jars of jalapenos. Don't overstuff, because now the edges need to be pinched around the ingredients to form a rounded shape again, then they can be twisted into a pretzel shape (make into a U shape and then tuck over each strand and pinch the ends). When all eight are done, add one by one to a boiling pan of water with baking soda in. This is where I encountered a problem; I have discovered baking soda isn't readily available in England, and there's not a real decent substitute for it either, except tons and tons of baking powder. Taking this into consideration, I used around eight cups of water and a cup of baking powder added to it and it seemed to work, touch wood. Dunk in each pretzel for about thirty seconds (they should float), coat in an egg wash (one beaten egg with a table spoon of water) and top with poppy seeds, although I actually used chia.

Pop onto a greased baking sheet and bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown on gas mark 7. They're honestly lush straight out of the oven but so, so hot so be careful not to burn your tongue. They're also pretty good the next day too, so enjoy!

Have you ever tried making pretzels? How did your recipe work out?

S xo.

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