It's time to head out to the local ball field and cheer on the home team. Whether you are a fan of the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees, there's one food you can find at every baseball diamond across the county- the hot dog. A baseball staple since the late 1800s, this handheld meal has grown a following alongside the infield.
And let's not forget the almighty pretzel, which is usually served sprinkled with crunchy sea salt and a small serving of cheese sauce. These two baseball staples were practically made for each over (including a large cup of beer).
Today, we are baking up the best of both worlds: the pretzel dog. Cooked until golden brown, this great recipe is perfect with a side of mustard for dipping. If you love pretzel dogs from Auntie Anne, you are going to call this pretzel recipe a home run.
How to Make Homemade Pretzel Dogs
Baking your own soft pretzels is a fun project which delivers yummy results. All you need is a few staple ingredients and you are good to go! Bonus points if you give out these hot dogs while shouting like you are at the game.
For the Dough
To begin, start with your pretzel dough. Since this is a yeast dough, the water temperature in which you bloom the yeast has to be at an optimal temperature. Too hot and the yeast dies, too cold and the active dry yeast doesn't wake up. The perfect temperature is around 110º to 115ºF. You can either use a thermometer or test it with your hands. It should be just slightly warm to touch. Remember your personal temperature is 98º, so it shouldn't feel like you cannot hold your hand in the water.
Combine the yeast, water and sugar and let sit until bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.
In your stand mixer bowl, add the yeast mixture, kosher salt, all-purpose flour and melted butter. Combine with a paddle attachment and when the mixture is ready to knead, switch out the paddle for the dough hook and knead until smooth, about 5-7 minutes. The dough will be soft, but should hold together.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place (like next to the oven) and let double in size. This took about an hour. Meanwhile preheat your oven.
You know that taste that makes pretzels taste different? It's actually a baking soda boil. Like bagels, pretzels are boiled to form a chewy crust in an alkaline bath. Traditionally bakers used lye to get that characteristic pretzel flavor, but we think baking soda is a lot safer and more accessible. Get that mixture boiling.
It's been and hour and it looks like the pretzel dough has doubled up nicely. Punch it down and divided it evenly into eight pieces. I find it easiest to divide in half, then divide each half into halves, then halves again.
Shape the Pretzels
Once the dough is divided out, roll each piece into a long 20-inch rope. If the dough is sticking add a little bit of flour to the table. I personally use a silicone baking mat. The dough doesn't stick and I don't have to clean my entire countertop from dried pieces of dough.
When all of the dough is rolled out, begin rolling a hot dog in the dough. The best way to do this is to hold the hot dog on a diagonal and roll the hot dog over the dough. Once at the end, pinch the dough together.
You can either pinch both sides of the dough together or keep the ends open to show the hot dog.
Boil the Pretzels
By now, the water mixture should be boiling. Add the pretzel dogs two to three at a time, cooking for about 30 seconds. Make sure to turn over the dogs halfway through to cook both sides evenly.
Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pretzel dogs. Brush each of the pretzels with melted butter and top with a coarse salt. You can buy specialty pretzel salt but I found that plain coarse salt worked fine.
Bake the pretzels until dark golden brown, about 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pretzel dogs to a cooling rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.