Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baked Mini Corn Dogs

Son #1 wanted corn dogs for lunch this week.  I think they must be serving them in the cafeteria at school because "corn dog" really isn't in our vocabulary.  Now, you know that I don't shy away from frying things in oil from time to time (Mmmmmm.  Donuts . . . ), but if the kids were going to eat these every day for lunch (kids are like that) frying seemed like a bad idea.  Solution: a baked corn dog that is somewhere between a pretzel and the deep fried original.  These were/are a massive hit with my kids and hopefully will be with yours as well.  I also understand there is some major sporting event coming up this weekend which might lend itself to a a corn dog or two.

INGREDIENTS
Makes 24.  Weighing the ingredients (the flour in particular) provides the most consistent results.
- 12oz/340ml/1.5 cups plain soy milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp instant or active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- generous 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 9oz/255g/1.5 cups fine cornmeal
- 11.5oz/326g/2.5 cups white bread flour
- soy milk for brushing
- 12 veggie hot dogs, cut in half

OPTIONAL
- I have seen recipes that call for some cayenne in the dough, or some minced jalapeƱo.  These sound like great ideas but not the kind of things my kids like

METHOD
1. Warm up soy milk to between 90 and 100 degrees F, then whisk in vinegar.  When thick, whisk in yeast, oil, and sugar.  Let sit for 5 mins to allow yeast to dissolve.
2.   Meanwhile, whisk salt, baking soda and cornmeal in stand mixer bowl.  Add yeast mixture and mix well.  Let sit for 5 mins.
3. Add flour and mix into a rough dough.  Let sit for 5 mins, then knead with a dough hook for 5 mins on med-lo speed.  The dough should clear the bottom of the bowl and should be tacky but not be sticky.  Adjust flour as needed (I find the amount above to be perfect).
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  You can skip this step if you are in a rush and just let the dough rise at room temp, but I find that the overnight fermentation produces great flavour, lets the gluten relax, and allows the cornmeal to soften.  Also, since the dough is tacky, cooling the dough makes it much easier to work with.  You can also compromise between the two methods and refrigerate the dough for about 4 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place one oven rack in the second highest position, and one on the second lowest.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces (around 40g each) then cover to keep from drying out.  Flatten each piece into a rectangle slightly longer than the veggie dog half and wide enough to wrap around the veggie dog.  Lightly dust the work surface with flour if the dough is too tacky to work with.  Wrap the dough around the veggie dog and pinch to seal the seam and ends.  Gently roll the dog back and forth in your hands to smooth out the dough as much as possible.  Place on the prepared sheet and repeat.  Put 12 corn dogs on each baking sheet.
7.  Brush each corn dog with soy milk (I pick them up and brush all sides).  Bake for 7.5 mins, then rotate and switch the sheets from one rack to the other (i.e. the sheet on the second highest rack will now be on the second lowest, and vice versa).  Bake for another 7.5 mins then transfer to a cooling rack.