by Tom Lee
I sympathize with Spencer’s breakfast problems. My own relationship with breakfast is complicated. I go back and forth between “hungry & cranky”, and “full but sleepy”. In between these extremes, neglected bananas turn to mush at the bottom of my backpack. The whole thing is terrible, a small but significant contributor to mornings’ overall awfulness.
But I do have a solution for Spencer’s specific problem. Emily and I have resolved to only exchange edible gifts for Valentine’s Day — this puts a cap on ostentatiousness and encourages creativity. I wasn’t sure what to make, but given Emily’s taste in snack foods, googling for the word “pretzeled” seemed like a good bet. Sure enough, I came across a recipe for pretzeling eggs, which happen to be another one of Emily’s favorite foods. It turned out pretty well:
The basic procedure is simple. Bake some delicious egg hockey pucks in a muffin tin. Remove and wrap in dough. Boil the dough in an alkaline solution to give it amazing pretzel properties. Finally, administer salt, poke some holes for steam and bake.
My effort was based on this recipe, with a couple of minor changes. First, I used Alton Brown’s pretzel recipe instead of the one linked. Emily and I have had success with it before, and its use of butter and a more potent baking soda solution seemed like worthwhile changes (I skipped the egg wash, though). Second, I opted for bacon and cheddar instead of the ham and swiss prescribed by the recipe. Honestly, though, pretty much any plausible breakfast combination should work — the secret here is the corn starch added to the egg mixture, which will hold together in a way that may be eerily familiar to consumers of fast food breakfast sandwiches.
What else? Well, I’d suggest that you remember to season the egg mixture; I didn’t, and while the saltiness of the cheddar and bacon helped minimize the impact of my mistake, more salt would’ve been nice. Also, I’ll go ahead and be more explicit than the source recipe: you should roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1.5–2mm. Other reasonable thicknesses work fine (and if you like doughier pretzels, be my guest), but that depth produced the most visually appealing results. Finally, I think the finished product would’ve benefited from a vegetable component. Maybe caramelized onions or a dollop of salsa? Whatever you pick, I’d suggest baking it with the eggs rather than adding it when you wrap them up. I’ve got a feeling that too much moisture during the final stage could screw things up.
Of course, waiting for dough to rise isn’t exactly compatible with the sort of easy, on-the-go breakfast that Spencer’s seeking. But our initial tests indicate that these pretzeled eggs stand up very well to freezing. Emily stored the leftovers in foil inside a ziploc bag, then later microwaved them to warmth and finished them in the oven (a toaster oven would be ideal). They will inevitably brown a bit more during reheating, though, so plan accordingly when you pull ’em from the oven the first time.
I threw the dough together the night before, then refrigerated it. With that time excluded, I’d say this whole operation took about an hour and a half, with rolling out and folding the dough comprising the biggest single task (you may be faster than me — I’m bad at this, and was using a wine bottle rather than a rolling pin). That’s a decent amount of time for what amounts to a batch of breakfast sandwiches, but I think it’s worth it for the sense of power that you’ll come away with: whip these up and you’ll feel like you can pretzel anything. Personally, I’ve got my eye on a pack of Hebrew Nationals, Auntie Annie’s patent portfolio be damned.