Soft Pretzel Bites

Here in Philadelphia we LOVE soft pretzels. They are everywhere. You can get them on the street corner, in convenience stores, and in a lot of restaurants. You can get a variety of dipping sauces, but I love just a basic spicy mustard to dip my pretzel into. Sometimes I can get down with a cheese sauce, but sometimes that’s just too heavy for a light & fluffy soft pretzel. And other times – I like them by themselves. Nothing on them. Plain Jane.

Believe it or not, soft pretzels are really easy to make at home.  They may seem really difficult, but they aren’t. If you’ve never had a real soft pretzel you’ve gotta try making these at home. They are so good. And they are much better than Auntie Anne’s pretzels. Those are just so heavy with all of that butter on them. Don’t get me wrong, I like butter. But wow. They are just too buttery for me.

Look at these. Aren’t they cute?! [Read more…]

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

I had a can of Libby’s Pumpkin in my cabinet taking up some space, so I decided to make something with it. I figured the perfect thing to make would be a loaf of Spiced Pumpkin Bread. This is the perfect thing to grab for breakfast while heading out the door for work. And it’s such an easy thing to make since I always have all of the ingredients on hand.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons ground allspice or pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Apple NESTLÉ® JUICY JUICE® All Natural 100% Juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

SIFT flour, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.

Combine pumpkin, sugar, Juicy Juice, eggs, oil and vanilla extract in large bowl;  Stir well.

Stir in flour mixture just until moistened.

Spoon into greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

BAKE for 65 to 70 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

This was my first time using this recipe, and it wasn’t that bad. I added in a little extra spice to mine, and I’m so happy that I did. It calls for 5 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, which may sound like a lot, but it’s really not. If you think about the canned Pumpkin doesn’t give it any spice; just a subtle pumpkin flavor. So you need the spice to come from somewhere.  So I used the 5 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (all Penzeys, of course!) plus I used 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I used regular Apple Juice and that worked out fine.  I think next time I’d use a little bit more brown sugar because I think it could be a tad sweeter. I baked mine for 58 minutes, which I think was plenty! So keep an eye on it. But for the first time making this, I was pretty happy with the result.

Pretzel Hot Dog Rolls

Here in Philadelphia, we LOVE Soft Pretzels. You can get them pretty much anywhere; on the street corner, in the convenience store, as an appetizer in a restaurant. People stuff anything in them – hot dogs, cheesesteaks, cream cheese, pepperoni, you name it.   There just something about that salty, doughy goodness that has us saying “Mmmm!” It’s very common to see Pretzel Rolls on a menu when you’re dining out here. Soft pretzels have a short shelf though, due to the salt that’s usually on them. After a while they start to get a bit moist on top and they just aren’t good once that happens. In my opinion, they don’t store well; they get too hard too fast.

I got the urge to try making Pretzel Hot Dog Rolls, so I set out to find a good recipe. I found one on a web site called She Simmers – the ingredients looked pretty easy, and the instructions were very detailed. So I set out to try to make them. Please note that there are instructions in here for Hamburger Rolls as well. I didn’t make any; I only made Hot Dog Rolls. You can see some pictures on how to make the Hamburger Rolls in the link above.


 For the dough:

  • 6 fl. oz. lukewarm water, divided
  • 10 g active dry yeast
  • 4 fl. oz. lukewarm milk
  • 80 g light or dark brown sugar
  • 4 g salt
  • 24 g butter, melted
  • 480 g bread flour, plus more if needed

 For boiling liquid:

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 6 cups water


In a bowl of a stand mixer or mixing bowl, mix together 4 fl. oz. of warm water with the yeast and just a tiny pinch of brown sugar; let the yeast bubble up. This should take 6-8 minutes.

Dissolve yeast in water & a pinch of brown sugar

Add the remaining water as well as everything, except the flour, into the yeast bowl; mix with a machine equipped with a dough hook or by hand.

Add remaining ingredients (except flour) into the yeast bowl

Slowly add the flour and mix (medium-high)/knead (vigorously) until you get a smooth, non-sticky dough.

Slowly add flour and mix

Add more flour as needed, one tablespoon at a time. (You want to err on adding too little instead of too much flour.) This should take about 6-8 minutes with a stand mixer and 12-15 minutes if kneading by hand. (NOTE: I added in 1 additional Tablespoon of flour)

Smooth, non-sticky dough

For the dough into a large ball, cover with a towel, and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Shape dough into a large ball and let it rest for 15 minutes

Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.

To make a hot dog bun, shape a piece of dough into a 5-inch log of approximately 1.5 inches in diameter with tapered ends. Arrange the dough logs onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches of space around each log.

Shape each piece of dough into a 5-inch log

Make sure the diameter is about 1.5 inches

To make a hamburger bun, shape a piece of dough into a ball, 3 inches in diameter, flatten it slightly with your palm. Arrange each dough ball onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches around each ball.
Cover the dough logs or balls with a towel; let them rise for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the water in a pot and bring it to a gentle boil.

Add the baking soda to the water. You will see lots of bubbles; that’s okay.

Add baking soda into the gently boiling water

Gently left up each piece of dough, trying your best to keep the integrity of its shape. Slowly plunge each piece of dough into the simmering liquid, “pretty” side first.

Put each piece of dough into the simmering liquid

Boil one or two pieces of dough at a time, 20 seconds per side. With a large slotted spoon, scoop the dough balls from the boiling liquid, shake off excess water, and gently place them on the same parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches of space between them.

Take dough out of water and put onto the parchment-lined baking sheet

With a sharp knife, or a dough slasher, make a cross on the top of each hamburger bun and 3-4 diagonal cuts on each hot dog bun. Each slash should be about 1/4 inch deep.

Sprinkle the top of the unbaked pretzel with your topping(s) of choice.If you’re baking your pretzels rolls on a cookie sheet, simply transfer the rolls on the cookie sheet to the oven rack set in the middle of the oven.

If you’re baking your pretzel rolls on a baking stone, sprinkle some cornmeal on the surface of the stone and arrange the rolls onto it, leaving about 3-4 inches between them. Place a pan of hot water on the rack set right underneath the baking stone.

Bake for 20-30 minutes (see my note below), depending on your baking method, or until the pretzel buns develop dark caramel color on the outsides and sound hollow when tapped with a finger.

Remove the buns from the oven and let them cool on a cooling rack, loosely covered with a kitchen towel.

Put Rolls on a cooling rack and loosely cover with a kitchen towel

Ta da!

This was actually a very easy recipe to follow. I weighed out all of the ingredients on a kitchen scale to make sure I got the correct measurements. Make sure you do this as well.  I think one change that I’d make next time is the size of the roll. I thought that it was a bit too large for a hot dog. It would be the perfect size if you were putting steak on it for a Cheesesteak. But for a hot dog, I thought it was a bit much. I wouldn’t make it as thick. Although I just dipped the extra pieces into some mustard. That worked out well! 🙂

One note on the cooking time:  Baking at 400 degrees, my Rolls were done in about 15 minutes. I didn’t want to leave them in there any longer because I didn’t want them to burn. When I make these again, I think I might lower the baking temperature to 375 degrees and see how that works out. As you can see I got a beautiful caramel color on the outside of the rolls, just like a soft pretzel.