Today is National Pretzel Day in the USA. I don’t know why, as there doesn’t seem to be any significance between today and pretzels, but it seems you can get free pretzels at some places in the US, so I can’t complain. Except for the part where I’m not in the US, so I’ll solve that by making my own.
I was told that pretzels are a bit like bagels, so I tried to find a recipe that included boiling them, and came across this one: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1139659/authentic-german-pretzels
It has “authentic” in the name, it must be good, right? Right?! Plus, it has malt in it, and I love malt. I changed it right from the start though, as I’ve been craving vanilla cinnamon pretzels ever since the Arnie Classic.
Note: This recipe uses 1kg of dough. Kneading this was like kneading a rock. My biceps haven’t worked so hard in such a long time, and that counts going to the gym. Then I got a good work out the next day rolling out the dough for the pretzels. If I were to do this again, I’d halve the recipe, as we really don’t need 16 pretzels, and it’ll be easier to manage the dough.
Makes 16 pretzels.
1kg bread flour (protein of 9 – 12%)
260ml milk (lukewarm) – I used soymilk
260ml water (lukewarm)
80g butter (unsalted, melted) – I used Nuttelex
1 tbsp malt extract (liquid or dried, or brown sugar)
2sp active dried yeast
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
3 tbsp baking soda (or lye, but be wary of using lye! It must be food grade and it’s dangerous)
(for sprinkling – this was a mistake!!!!!)
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
(the original recipe has unrefined rock / sea salt, or cheese and ham cubes for topping)
1. Mix water, yeast and 100g of the flour, and leave in a warm place for 5+ hours so the yeast gets going.
Well, right from the start, I goofed. I misread the recipe, and put the milk in with the water, yeast and flour. I left it in a warm place to proof, and this is what I came back to:
I figured I’d go ahead anyway and see what happened.
2. Add remaining flour, salt, milk, malt extract, melted butter. Mix and knead until form, then leave for 90 minutes until it springs back when poked gently. (I didn’t have time to wait, so I chucked it in the fridge overnight for use the next night (though I did give it a bit of a knead in the morning to stop it overflowing).) I had a really hard time kneading the dough, and I found it a bit dry, so I ended up adding an extra 2 tablespoons of milk and 1 tablespoon of water.
3. Separate the dough into 16 pieces (the original recipe said 14, but 14 only has 2 factors: 2 and 7, and I’m not that great at eyeballing things into 7 equal sized pieces).
If making the traditional pretzel shape, roll the dough out to about 40cm, Hold both ends up so that the middle is down, so the whole thing is a U-shape. About 3-5cm from the top, depending on how long you were able to roll it out, twist the two ends around each other, then fold back onto the fat bottom of the U and stick the ends into the bottom.
4. Allow the dough to proof in a warm place for at least 30 minutes. Good time to preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
5. In a medium / large pot, add the baking soda to the water, and bring to a boil.
6. The original recipe says to leave the pretzels where there’s a breeze or a fan for a bit, as that will make it more chewy. There was no breeze, and we don’t have a fan, so I skipped this, and mine didn’t turn out very chewy. :(
7. Combine the sugar and cinnamon.
8. After you’ve proofed and breezed the dough, Put the pretzels in one at a time, and boil until they float (roughly 5-10s), but I’d say leave it in a few seconds longer so the water has time to soak into those nooks and crannies. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
9. Bake the pre-boiled pretzels for 15 minutes, until brown (I didn’t seem to be able to get a dark, dark brown, but the more brown pretzels had more of that pretzely taste than the golden-brown ones. I ended up baking them for 20 minutes to get them somewhat brown).
While the cinnamon sugar gave the pretzels a nice cinnamon-sweet taste, it did not go well with the pretzel taste. I think I should have done it with American-style pretzels rather than German ones. I can really see these pretzels going well with mustard or garlic instead. Definitely more savoury pretzels. Oh well, a semi-disaster, but they’re still edible.