I am currently typing away on my laptop, praying that the puppy will stay asleep long enough for me to tackle the mass of frizzy insanity atop my head and enjoy a few minutes of self-care.
We are back at this weekday game and I am moving a little more slowly than I would like, but I am moving nonetheless and that is more than enough achievement at 5:31am.
I am here with something extra special for us. Yes, I know I say that about everything I share here, but this recipe is SO. INCREDIBLY. WONDERFUL. and definitely my favorite thing that has come out of my oven in many weeks.
These turnovers have me fantasizing about buying a bakery where I could dedicate my efforts solely to making and serving all manner of soft pretzels. A carb haven for my fellow bread-ophiles.
A dream for another age, perhaps...
For now, my bakery is my kitchen, I am my most faithful patron, and that is all just fine with me.
Let's make some pretzels.
If bread-making is still foreign territory for you, pretzels are a wonderful way to dip in your toes and build up your confidence.
The dough is so simple, and in the many hundreds (truly, hundreds) of times that I have made it, never once has it failed me.
Being as the dough is so simplistic, we have a bit more time to focus on fillings.
The quickest of jams is made with black cherries that have been spiked with lemon zest to give them a lovely, tart makeover, and cream cheese is whipped into sweet oblivion with the aid of vanilla and confectioner's sugar.
The defining characteristic that separates pretzels from pale, flavorless, twists of bread, is the baking soda bath.
A quick, thirty-second dip into a boiling baking soda bath has profound effects upon an otherwise uninteresting dough.
The baking soda gives the pretzels their distinctive pretzel flavor, and unmistakable, dark brown finish, while the boiling helps us achieve that signature chewy texture.
All in all, these turnovers are essentially the best breakfast in town.
Oh, and did I mention the coating of vanilla butter? It is everything.
Getting out of bed isn't looking so bad now.
TART CHERRY & CREAM CHEESE PRETZELS TURNOVERS
makes eight // pretzel dough recipe adapted from Alton Brown
FOR THE CHERRY JAM
- 1 lb frozen, pitted black cherries
- zest of one large lemon
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons' worth)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Combine frozen cherries, lemon zest, lemon juice, and granulated sugar in a 3-quart saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring every so often.
Simmer for 15 minutes, until the cherries are soft.
While the cherries simmer, make a slurry by combining water and cornstarch in a small jar. Shake vigorously.
Once the cherries are done simmering, stir the slurry into the cherry mixture and cook for 30 seconds, continuing to stir constantly, until thick. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
While the jam cools, prepare the pretzel dough.
FOR THE PRETZEL DOUGH
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- nonstick spray
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- egg wash (1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon of water)
- coarsely ground kosher salt
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine 1 1/2 cups warm water, sugar, and kosher salt. Sprinkle yeast on top and allow to sit for 5 minutes; until foamy.
Add the flour and melted butter to the yeast mixture and fit your mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix on low speed until the flour and butter are well incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. This will take about 5 minutes.
Remove the dough and place in a large bowl that you have greased with nonstick spray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 55 minutes, until doubled in size.
Cook's Note: While the dough rises, prepare the cream cheese filling. (Recipe follows.)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray generously with nonstick spray.
Cook's Note: Pretzels are highly prone to sticking. However, I have found that this parchment paper produces perfect pretzels every time. It is the only kind I will use when I am baking them, and you do not even need to grease it!
In a 4-quart, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the 10 cups of water with the baking soda. Bring to a rolling boil.
Turn the risen dough out unto a lightly-floured surface and portion into eight equal pieces. Roll each into a 5-inch square. Turn the square so that it looks like a diamond in front of you. Place one spoonful each of cherry jam and cream cheese filling in the center and fold the top corner over the filling, matching the edge with that of the bottom corner. Crimp the edges of the turnover by folding over and pinching to seal.
Place the pretzel turnovers in the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds. Transfer the boiled turnovers to the prepared sheet pans. Brush each turnover with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
Bake the pretzels until they are deep golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Cook's Note: While the pretzels bake, prepare the vanilla butter. (Recipe follows.)
Allow to cool for several minutes before handling. Once the turnovers have cooled slightly, brush with vanilla butter and serve warm.
Cook's Note: These turnovers will last up to 24 hours. Microwave for 10-30 seconds to warm.
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FILLING
- 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for one minute. Reduce speed, and mix in confectioner's sugar in 1/2-cup increments. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, mix in vanilla.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
FOR THE VANILLA BUTTER
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Microwaving on low heat, melt butter in a small bowl and stir in vanilla butter.