There are a number of reasons to be excited about Cooks County, which opened yesterday on Beverly boulevard. It's from the folks behind Barbrix, serves down-home California cuisine, and is being helmed by the experienced chef team of Daniel Mattern and Roxanna Jullapat—both formerly of Ammo. The pair is working a menu peppered with house-made preserves, condiments, charcuterie, and fresh baked breads. This week, Jullapat shares her recipe for "Spretzels," soft pretzels enchanced with a touch of spelt flour (get it?), served with a cranberry mustard dipping sauce. The combination makes for an excellent party dish, as well as a healthy snack to munch while your waiting for your turkey to defrost.
Spretzles with Cranberry Mustard
We came up with this recipe after reading “Good to the Grain,” a cookbook written by our friend Kim Boyce, which inspired us to incorporate more whole grain flours in our dishes both savory and sweet. We like to call them “spretzels” because they’re made with spelt flour in addition to regular bread flour. Spelt is a noble ancient grain and we love the earthy and nutty undertones that it adds to the spretzel. We eat them with mustard all year long but this time of year we like to serve them with a cranberry mustard dip as a great holiday snack.
Makes 14 to 15 spretzels
For the spretzel dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup spelt flour
2 ¼ cup bread flour plus extra for dusting
1 tablespoon kosher salt
About 2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup baking soda
Coarse salt to garnish
For the cranberry mustard dip:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon high quality cranberry preserves
Pour 1 ½ cups lukewarm water into a bowl, and rain the yeast over it. Sprinkle the sugar on top and stir. Set aside to activate for 5 minutes.
In the electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the yeast mixture with the spelt flour, bread flour and salt on very slow speed. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and then mix on high speed for another 2 minutes. The dough should be uniform and soft but not sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead into a tight ball. Brush a bowl that’s large enough for the dough to double in size with a bit of the canola oil and place the ball of dough in it. Place the bowl in a large plastic bag, tie it loosely, and set it aside in a warm place in the kitchen for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and place an oven rack in the middle position of the oven. Brush two cookie sheets with the remaining canola oil and set them aside.
While the dough is rising, make the cranberry mustard dip. Put the yolk, vinegar, mustards, sugar and salt in a blender. Remove the cap from the lid of the blender, and with the blender running on medium speed, add the oil in a slow and steady stream (the oil has to be incorporated slowly in order to produce an emulsified mixture). Once all the oil has been added, transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl and stir in the cranberry preserves. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn the risen dough onto a table and pinch off 15 nuggets, about 2 ounces each. Take each nugget and roll into a rope about 20 inches long. Shape each pretzel by forming a loop then twisting the two ends together a couple of times and finally pinching them in the middle. Put the pretzels on the oil cookie sheets and let them proof for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pretzels start to look puffy.
Meanwhile prepare a wash by dissolving the baking soda in 3 cups of water. Brush each pretzel generously with this solution and sprinkle with coarse salt (be careful not to oversalt; keep in mind that the baking soda wash will add a bit of saltiness as well). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the spretzels look rich golden brown. Let them rest for 10 minutes and remove from the tray. Serve immediately or reserve for later, in which case you may want to reheat for a few minutes before enjoying.