Pretzels and Pretzel Bread
A few months ago I did a real big kitchen study on bagels and pretzels. They both have similar roots and if we follow the history, the bread masters of yester-year came over in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s from Poland, Ukraine, Germany and Russia bringing to the United States a great skill that is in growing demand today. The topic that I want to share is pretzels… Let’s Make Pretzels!
I have adopted my basic white bread recipe to include malt and molasses, which adds the old world flavor to a pretzel. I think you will enjoy this project but let me tell you right up front that it is messy and includes caustic solutions that might hurt your hands and eyes. I did not use goggles but it might be wise.
You will prepare a hot baking soda solution to par-cook the pretzel dough before baking. This solution is seemingly harmless until you get things rumbling in the kitchen and you will see the mess it makes. It was all worth the several weekend sessions that I made in order to better perfect my skill in making bagels and pretzels.
Here is a link to some decent trivia on pretzels… I love to read about the roots of the food I create The Pretzel Wiki
Chef Gosselin Pretzel Recipe
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fast rise yeast
2 tsp diastatic malt (I am using my Brewer’s DME (dried malt extract)) See my note below
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 cup baking soda
I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer (Would love Sears to pick me up as a sponsor and I would tell everyone about my mixer).
Add all the dry ingredients to my mixing bowl (yeast goes in last) then place the sugars (molasses and malt) on top of the yeast.
The canola oil goes on top of the yeast next…..finally
Pour the warm water atop the yeast and let the dough hook work its magic.
I allow the dough to knead in the mixing bowl until it is a nice smooth pliable dough (4-5 min). You might find you need to lock your mixer head in place during the kneading. It is a fairly violent act.
Remove dough from mixing bowl and place in a sprayed glass or stainless bowl for rising. I will use a double bowl technique to rise my dough. I take hot tap water and place it in a bowl then sit my bread holding bowl into that water bath and it rises much more rapidly. I place a dinner plate over the dough bowl to protect it from the environment and help keep the heat in the dough bowl.
When the dough has doubled in size. Punch it down (yes …wash your hands and push the dough down in the bowl). Allow the dough to rise a second time.
Remove dough from bowl and cut into 4 parts. I usually do not need to place my dough on a floured surface but if your dough is sticky and hard to work with go ahead and lightly flour your clean working surface and lay it out.
Roll out the 4 ea pieces of pretzel dough into mini loaves and let proof on sprayed baking sheet for about 30 min. (mean-while)
Preheat oven to 450F (I keep a pizza stone in my oven all the time since I bake more than most).
Get a pasta kettle or a nice 12″ stock pot (non reactive) and place about 2 quarts of water in the pot with the baking soda. Heat the water and stir the baking soda until dissolved (you do not need to make it boil).
I let the baking soda solution cool a bit
Dip your mini loaves into the pot of warm baking soda solution for about 60 sec (I use a straining spoon/scooper)
Remove and place on back on baking sheet
Brush lightly with egg wash or butter
Make several hash slits in the bread with serrated knife as pictured in my pretzel loaves above (this allows the steam to escape from the loaves)
Salt with Kosher Pretzel salt if desired (I keep this salt in stock but rarely use it)
Bake 450F for 15 min or until nice and golden browned
Remove baked loaves from oven and transfer to cooling rack
NOTE: I brew beer at home and the DME that I buy for making beer is a diastatic malt and is a whole lot cheaper bought as a beer making supply than a baking supply. So I go to my local beer supply store or buy on line for the DME and it costs about $4-6 for a pound.