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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

Cheese Straws (or Cheese Wafers)

Extremely popular in the South - always on the menu at parties and get-togethers - and something we always made for our annual Christmas parties. They can be made as straws or wafers - it is just a matter of how you shape them. Michael, who is a cheese straw connoisseur - says they are best when made very thin. Some shape them into straws with a cookie press. I have tried to do this in the past but found that the mixture was too thick to come out easily from the cookie press. 

The recipe can be divided for smaller portions or doubled for larger. This recipe makes about 4 dozen wafers or straws.

1 lb. sharp grated Cheddar cheese (room temperature)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, (room temperature)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. (or pinch) garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift or whisk together the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper and garlic powder. Set aside.

Combine the cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Mix for about 5 minutes until the mixture is creamy.

On low speed, add large spoonfulls of the flour mixture to the cheese mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Remove the mixture from the bowl and roll it into a ball on a board. If making wafers, use a small scoop to shape the batter into balls. Place them on the parchment lined baking sheets and press them with a fork or spoon to flatten. If making straws, you can use a cookie press or shape them by hand into 4-6 inch strips.

Bake 10-12 minutes until the edges and bottoms are lightly browned. Allow to cool on wire racks. Store in an air-tight container.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


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