Here’s a list of things I don’t understand: math. Drake’s latest rap beef. Hot dogs. Here’s a list of things I DO understand: Challah. Pretzels. Sausages. The big three. The holy trinity!
Today, we’re combining all three of those things to make Pretzel Challah Dogs. Get ready, because you know what happens when you combine three great things?One amazing thing. How’s that for math skills?!
The inspiration for this recipe comes from this great cookbook. I’ve long been a fan of Shannon’s gorgeous babkas and challahs and was thrilled to receive her book when it came out. It’s full of exciting recipes I want to try and the pretzel challah dogs stood out to me, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. No time like the present!
Pretzel-ing sounds complicated, but if you can make challah, you can make these. (By the way, here’s my mom’s uber popular, uber delicious challah recipe. You’re welcome.) Shannon’s dough is yeasted, enriched and smells warm and homey while rising. I cut the sugar back to let the pretzel flavor come through and added a bit more oil to create a wonderful, flexible dough, perfect for wrapping around sausages.
Once the dough’s risen, divided and wrapped around the sausages- sweet Italian, because yum- it’s time to pretzel them. My fearless Swiss grandmother uses lye, a caustic, alkali based solution when she makes pretzel bread, but I keep things a little safer and more accessible by using baking soda.
Standard baking soda, comparatively weak in alkali, doesn’t do much on its own, but baking it first kicks into it into high gear, a trick I learned from the genius Harold McGee. The activated baking soda produces a gelatinous outside crust on the challah, which prevents it from fully rising in the oven and stimulates the Maillard reaction, which results in these challah dogs having gorgeously browned, pretzel-ed outsides.
After their baking soda bath, the pretzel dogs are studded with coarse salt and baked. You’ll want to tear into them as soon as they emerge from the oven, but wait. The hot dough will separate quickly from the sausages, whereas slightly cool yet still warm dough will settle cozily into the sausages and remain in place.
These pretzel challah dogs are insanely good, combining the flavors of rich challah, tasty pretzel and savory sausage. They’re the perfect way to kick off summer BBQ season, and the recipe makes enough for a crowd, which you’ll need- because people are going to want more than one.
Bring out the mustard, open a few beers, and let Summer 2018 begin. We have Pretzel Challah Dogs, and we’re ready for anything!
Yields: 14 pretzel dogs
Partially adapted from here
Why I love this recipe: baking the baking soda activates it so that it performs like lye, yielding challah dogs with gorgeously burnished, pretzel-ed crusts. The dough has just enough sugar and egg and a nice of amount of oil, which makes them easy to wrap around the sausages. They’re perfect for a ballgame, barbecue or picnic- just add mustard!
Notes: baked baking soda still isn’t as strong as lye, but it’s strong enough to irritate, so avoid touching or spilling it. Use caution and wear gloves when bathing the dogs in the baking soda bath.
Variation: use hot dogs instead of sausages. Use lye to pretzel instead of baking soda.
For the pretzel challah dogs:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
- 5 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 14 sweet Italian sausages
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 egg, for egg-washing
- coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
- In a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar and give it a little stir. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, or until it becomes foamy on top.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine remaining sugar, flour, and salt. Add the eggs, oil and the yeast mixture to the flour and mix on low speed to combine.
- Knead the dough in the stand mixer for 7 to 10 minutes, until smooth and just slightly sticky.
- Grease the inside of a large clean bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in size.
- While the dough rises, bake your baking soda. Preheat the oven to 250ºf, spread the baking soda out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.
- Let it cool and set it aside until after you’ve shaped your dogs.
- Increase the oven temperature to 375ºf and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Use a kitchen scale and bench knife to split the dough into 14 equal portions. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out a long skinny rope and wrap it firmly and evenly around a sausage.
- Place it on a baking sheet and continue with the remaining dough and hot dogs, placing them 1 1/2″ apart on the baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 20 more minutes.
- Make the baking soda bath: bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour the baked baking soda into the boiling water very carefully, as it will bubble up and foam. Stir it to dissolve the baking soda.
- Using gloved hands or tongs and working in batches, immerse the dogs into the mixture for about 2 minutes on each side. Pat them dry with a paper towel and place them back on the baking sheet.
- Brush the bathed dogs with the egg wash, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake until deep golden brown, 25-35 minutes.
- Let cool slightly, serve with ketchup and grainy or spicy mustard and enjoy!