- 1 pkg Hodgson Mill Fast Rise Yeast
- 1 cup Hodgson Mill Rye Flour
- 1 cup Hodgson Mill White Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 1/2 cups Hodgson Mill All Purpose White Flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more for finishing
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- nonstick spray, oil, or butter for bowl
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 3 Tbsp. Hodgson Mill All Purpose White Flour
- 1 12-oz. bottle brown ale, or amber ale
- 1 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
- 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into pieces
- 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or less to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- green onions, sliced, to top (optional)
In a large bowl, stir together Fast Rise Yeast, all three flours, and salt. Add warm water and honey and stir until it becomes too difficult to use a spoon. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10-12 minutes, adding up to ½ cup more white flour if needed to keep it from sticking to hands or surface. Dough will be somewhat soft and sticky, and will feel slightly tacky on your hands. It should form a ball with a fairly smooth surface when you are done. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook attachment for 6-8 minutes.)
Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray (or oil or butter if you prefer) and place kneaded dough inside. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1- 1 ½ hours.
Preheat oven to 450° and start a large pot with 5 cups of water to boil. This will be the baking soda bath. Covering the pot will help it boil faster. Prepare several baking sheets (you will need 2-3) with parchment paper, silicon mats, or butter. When dough has doubled in size, turn it out on a clean surface and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Take each piece and roll it with flat hands into a 1-inch wide snake. Don’t use flour at this stage – it will be slightly tacky, but that will help you roll it smoothly. Cut the snake into 1-inch pieces. Repeat with all 8 sections of dough.
Let the pretzel bites rest and rise again for 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, make sure the water is on its way to boil. When pretzel bites have risen and water is boiling, add 1/4 cup baking soda to the pot (add it slowly in several batches, because it will bubble and foam when it hits the water). Carefully drop pretzel bites, a few at a time, into the boiling baking soda bath. Let them boil for 30 seconds on one side, then turn them to the other side to boil for another 30 seconds. They will puff and brown slightly. Use a slotted spoon to remove, drain and arrange them on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle immediately with coarse salt, such as sea salt, kosher salt, or flaky maldon salt. Bake 10-13 minutes until bites are very dark brown and slightly crispy. Serve warm, preferably on the day they are made.
To make Cheddar-Bacon-Ale Dip: In large pan over medium heat, cook diced bacon until browned and crispy. Remove from pan, and drain on paper towels. Leave 3 tablespoons of bacon fat behind in pan. Stir in flour, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes, until slightly thicker and darker. Add beer and cook, stirring until it starts to thicken. Whisk in mustard powder and cayenne pepper. (½ teaspoon cayenne gives it a nice kick, but add more or less according to your taste.) Turn heat down to low. Add cream cheese and stir. When it is melted and smooth, add cheddar cheese slowly, in 2-3 batches, waiting until one addition is melted before adding next. Stir until cheeses are melted and dip is smooth and bubbling. Turn off heat. Fold in about ¾ of the bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use the rest for garnish. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a covered crock pot. Dip can be made in advance and kept up to 3 days in fridge and reheated to serve.
Makes about 144 pretzel bites, and about 2 ½ cups of Cheddar Bacon Ale Dip.
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