My "to read" list is shorter and the boys have put a world of hurt on the competition in the "read the most books" contest at our local library. Truly, can you think of a better way to spend the day as a family? Baking, eating, laughing, snuggling in plush blankets and reading. I do hope the rain stays a little while longer.
Ham and Cheddar Stuffed Soft Pretzels
1 c. lukewarm milk
½ c. hot water (not boiling, just hot)
4 c. (1 lb. 1 oz., by weight) high-gluten flour (or bread flour)
1 T. malt powder (or granulated sugar)
1¼ t. kosher salt
2¼ t. instant yeast
For pretzel boil:
2 quarts water
¼ c. baking soda
1½ c. diced ham (I like to use country ham or a Virginia-style baked ham for this.)
1½ c. diced Cheddar cheese (We prefer extra sharp, but use your favorite.)
1 egg, beaten
Coarse sea salt, kosher salt or pretzel salt
To make the dough by hand:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, malt powder or sugar and yeast. Set the whisk aside and switch to a sturdy wooden spoon. Stir in the milk and tap water until a soft dough forms. Turn onto a generously floured surface and knead, adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep the dough from adhering to the counter. You do not want a firm dough; it should be fairly slack, a little tacky and soft, yet smooth. Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in bulk and puffy, about an hour or so.
To make the dough by stand mixer:
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, salt, malt powder or sugar and yeast. Mix on low just to combine dry ingredients. With mixer still on low, carefully pour in the milk and water. Continue mixing on low until you have a smooth, soft, slightly tacky dough. Remove bowl from the mixer, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in bulk and puffy, about an hour or so.