Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I've always been curious about making these big, soft pretzels, but it seemed a little scary for some reason. Today when I was home with a sick kid, I figured this was the time to let it rip. And, as usual, it wasn't as big of a deal as I thought it would be. I gotta admit, I didn't understand some of the science behind what I was doing, but they turned out as big, fluffy, soft, brown pretzels, so it worked! This recipe is from my cookbook called Home Baking.
1 cup milk, scalded & cooled to room temp
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbs wheat malt syrup (whatever... I used honey)
2 1/2 - 3 cups all purpose flour (I used bread flour)
2 Tbs butter, cut into pieces, room temp
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 tsp milk for egg wash (I used olive oil)
Cool milk to about 120 degrees, then add yeast & stir to dissolve. Add malt syrup (or honey) & 1 cup of flour & stir until you have a smooth batter. Sprinkle in the salt , add the butter & mix. Add 1 1/4 cups more flour & combine. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place in a clean bowl, cover & let rise for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled. Place rack in the upper third of the oven & put in a baking stone or baking sheet. Preheat oven to 450.
Turn the dough out onto very lightly floured surface. Cut into 4 equal pieces & then cut each piece in half. Place a parchment lined baking sheet or a floured board next to your work surface. Work with 2 pieces of dough at a time, keeping remaining pieces covered. Roll each piece of dough in your hands into a long skinny rope, about 24 inches long. The dough is very elastic & springs back & shortens after you let it go, so switch back & forth between the 2 pieces. This gets easier as you go, & you'll figure out the technique. It's also a pretty decent arm workout, by the time you've finished 8 of them, so that's a bonus.
This is where the recipe got a little weird, so I just shaped each rope into the pretzel shape, and put them on the floured board to rise for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan until almost boiling. Add the baking soda and stir well to dissolve. Keep the water simmering. Lift one pretzel at a time into the water bath with a spatula leaving it on the spatula for 20 seconds. Let water drain and then place back on the board until all of them have taken a dip. This seemed weird, but I think there is something magical that happens with the steam, maybe? Anyway, after you take them out of the water, brush with egg wash or oil, then make a slash in the fattest part of the pretzel with a sharp knife (not sure why), and sprinkle with salt if you like.
Take the baking sheet out of hot oven and place 4 pretzels on it at a time & bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden & sexy. Place on a rack to cool.
Posted by H at 4:47 PM