The wondrous Sportsball season is finally in full swing. Droves of hungry fans gather around televisions and stadiums around the globe to watch their teams battle it out on plush fields of green. College football towns become overrun with masses of fans. Crowds converge to their brightly lit temples to cheer on their team. Just watching the game is not enough most of the time. Sacrifices to the Sportsball gods must be made. Platters of homemade and store-bought concoctions composed of cheese, bread, meat, veggies, and sweets are presented and promptly devoured.
Just grab a plate of delicious noms and your favorite beverage in between commercials and you’re ready to fully cheer on the Sportsball team of your choice. Heaven help you if you walk in front of the T.V. during the game.
For me, Sportsball season is just another excuse for me to cook and bake to my heart’s content. I don’t really enjoy the games for the games, I’m more of a social butterfly who likes to hang out and play hostess more so than getting all uppity about a bad call or stupid play. Luckily, I am part of this awesome blog – Nerds and Nomsense – and can share my recipes with the Multiverse. How snazzy is that?
This week’s tasty Sportsball nom is going to be for Mozzarella Pretzel Balls.
These are super easy to make and only take a few ingredients. The only down side is the rise time which is crucial, in my opinion. Now, I should add that during our adventure into making these, we lost power. Not once. Not twice. About four frakking times. Oh, and our oven died so we had to bake everything in our nifty little toaster oven.
You can’t get any simpler than this cast of cooking compadres. Yeast slurry (yeast, milk, brown sugar, butter), salt, and bread flour.
The dough looks pretty sad right here, but give it time.
Rise my pretty! Muwah ha ha ha ha.
That dough needs you … so kneed it right back. If you have little ones, let them do this part.
Divide your dough. We highly recommend purchasing one of these nifty little dough scrapers. It works like a charm for all doughy purposes AND makes cleaning up flour/dough from the counter super easy.
Place your mozzarella in the middle of your dough round and cover it up completely. Make sure to SEAL all of the edges because if you don’t your cheese will try to escape. Escaping cheese is bad and must be punished.
Divide your dough and roll them babes up.
Let your little lovelies rise until they have doubled in size (45 minutes to an hour)
Once you take your lovely cheese filled dough balls out of the water they look like little wrinkly old men. Never fear, they won’t stay wrinkly once they’re baked. The will expand and be absolutely gorgeous. Think Benjamin Button in his 20-30’s. Yes.
I would like to mention that for the first batch, I wasn’t thinking and just put the dough on some aluminium foil… big mistake. They baked nicely but got stuck in the process.
These little pretzel balls are delicious, pillowy-soft, and packed full of flavor. Feel free to add chopped up jalapenos or other flavorings to the dough or experiment with using different kinds of cheese. Or if you’re craving soft pretzels just use the dough and bake to your heart’s content. I’ve been craving soft pretzels for weeks now.
- 5 cups of bread flour (a little more or less)
- 3.5 cups of milk
- 1 stick of butter (melted) plus 4 tablespoons (melted) for brushing.
- 3 packages of yeast
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- ½ cup of water - for working with the dough / sealing the edges
- 1 - 8oz mozzarella ball
- ---For the Baking Soda Bath---
- A large stockpot filled ¾ the way full of water
- ½ cup of baking soda
- Warm up your milk in a saucepan till it is about 105-110F. Don't let it get much past that as the high heat will kill your yeast.
- Add in ½ cup of dark brown sugar and stir till dissolved.
- Add yeast and let the yeast proof for 5-8 minutes.
- While the yeast is proofing, go ahead and melt your butter and let it rest so it's not scorching hot (again, killing the yeast would suck)
- In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, pour your melted butter and milk/sugar/yeast mixture in and mix. Sprinkle the remaining sugar and salt in as well.
- In about 1 cup increments, add your bread flour until the dough is smooth and rolling away from the sides.
- Remove the dough hook from the bowl, cover the dough and let it set until doubled in size (about 45 minutes)
- Cut your mozzarella ball into 35-40 pieces (keep them as uniform as you can)
- Punch down and divide into 35-40 pieces of dough.
- Wrap the dough around the mozzarella pieces, making sure that they are tightly sealed. Dip two fingers into a small bowl of water and then work the edges so that everything is sealed. You don't want the delicious cheese to escape now do you?
- Lay the dough balls out on a parchment paper lined sheet pan (might take two pans), cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 450F
- Prepare a large stock pot and fill it ¾ths the way full of water.
- Add in your baking soda and bring to a rolling boil.
- In groups of 3-5, use a strainer to place your dough balls into the water and 'cook' them for about 30 seconds, making sure that all sides are submerged at one point or another.
- Place the boiled dough on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper with about 1.5 inches in between each and sprinkle with pretzel salt (or just kosher salt).
- Bake for 10-13 minutes until pretzels are nice and golden brown.
- Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.
- Serve warm with the dipping sauce of your choice or eat these lovelies plain. Just try not to eat all of these in one sitting.
What is your favorite game day snack? What tailgating recipe would you like to see next?