Monday, November 14, 2011

The Kids Cook Monday: Pretzel Dogs

Oh the much-maligned hot dog! The epitome of "bad" kid food, the bain of nutritionists who seek to steer kids clear of processed foods, the go-to food when time is short and mom is in need of easy, no-fight food. In recent years, we've seen 'dogs dressed up, dressed down and even celebrated on Public Television. But one of my favorite kinds of hot dogs is a mall-food staple - the pretzel dog! If you were to pick one up at your local mall, it would likely be a little greasy and a little too salty. When we decided to make pretzel dogs in our house this week, we decided it was time to shape these dogs up a bit.
We started with the dough. Ours is a honey wheat pretzel dough that uses just a touch of honey and only a little bit of salt for flavor. Then we picked out a healthier, organic version of this American classic (we like Applegate Farms hot dogs). And we ended up with a fun food memory for all of us.

Pretzel Dogs
makes 16 dogs

1 1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
1 tbsp honey
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
16 organic nitrate/nitrite-free beef hot dogs
kosher salt

The first step is to make the pretzel dough. We consulted one of our favorite kid cookbooks - Honest Pretzels by Mollie Katzen - on the proper method for assembling a yeasted dough. Her kids' books all have illustrated recipes, showing step-by-step what to do so even kids too young to read can follow along. Though our recipe differs from hers slightly, the Kid was still able to use the images to put his dough together. Here's what you'll need to do:
Add the yeast and honey to the warm water and allow it to proof for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the flours and salt to a stand mixer with either the paddle or dough hook attachment and stir to combine. Once the yeast has proofed, add it, along with 1 tbsp of olive oil, to the flour mixture and mix for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Pretty much all of the kneading will be done in the machine but it never hurts to let the kids knead a little before allowing it to rise. Just sprinkle a little flour on a clean surface (like your kitchen table) and let 'em go at it. We're not making baguettes or puff pastry here, so don't worry too much about over-handling the dough.
Place the kneaded dough in a metal bowl that has been brushed with the remaining olive oil. Turn the dough to coat it and allow it to rise for about one hour (cover the bowl with plastic wrap while it's rising).
When it's time to make the pretzel dogs, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a low boil. Divide the dough into quarters. One quarter is enough to make 4 - 5 pretzel dogs. Since we only wanted to make that many, we put our leftover dough in plastic bags so that we will have them in the freezer for the next time the urge hits.

We fashioned the dough into long snakes to twist around the dogs. Once they were twisted, we placed them gently in the boiling water. It will only take a couple of minutes for them to pop up to the surface, then quickly remove them and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt if you are so inclined (the Dad and I were, the Kid was not).

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly before serving. Serve with spicy mustard and plenty of veggies for not-from-the-mall meal!

Editor's note: The yield amount was updated when I realized I can't do math - the full recipe of dough should be enough for 16 hot dogs, not 12.


Jenn @ BentoForKidlet said...

Oh yum! I haven't eaten a pretzel dog in so long and these look so delicious!

Emme said...

They were super yummy and this dough is so forgiving - perfect for little hands in the kitchen!

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