|1 pack||(2-1/4 teaspoons) active|
|1½ cup||Warm water|
|½ pounds||(8 ounces) sharp cheddar|
|Cheese, shredded (2 to|
|2-1/2 cups, loosely packed)|
|1||Egg, lightly beaten, for|
|Coarse salt for the tops|
"Pretzels can be made large and soft, or small and hard. The hard ones are more crackery. The soft ones are delicious with a ribbon of mustard on the top. Although this is a yeast dough, it is not allowed to rise, so these treats can be ready to eat in just a few minutes.
425~F. 15 to 30 minutes, depending on size Preheat the oven to 425~F.
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Set aside in a warm place until the yeast starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl or in the food processor, combine the flour, salt, and cheese. Mix until the cheese is evenly coated.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix well to form a cohesive dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes by hand or 20 to 30 pulses in the food processor.
With a sharp knife, divide the dough into 16 pieces if you are making large pretzels, or 32 pieces for smaller ones. With your hands, roll each piece into a rope about 12 inches long. You will have a more even-looking rope if you place the dough on a firm surface and roll your hands across the top, moving from the center outward. When the rope is the thickness you like, twist it into a pretzel shape by forming a loop in the center, twisting the ends, and gently attaching them to the bottom of the loop. Place each pretzel on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops with the egg and sprinkle lightly and evenly with coarse salt.
Immediately place the pretzels in the oven until the tops are a rich brown. This will be about 25 to 30 minutes for the larger pretzels and 15 to 20 minutes for the smaller ones. Yield: 16 to 32 pretzels, depending on size.
VARIATIONS: Try using different cheeses. For plain pretzels, omit the cheese.
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