Saturday, 26 November 2011

Pretzels - a simple recipe

When a colleague of mine turned 50 recently, we decided to each make and bring a dish for her Birthday tea that we knew to be one of her favourites. I quickly added my name to the list next to 'pretzels' as I have always fancied having a go at making them. 

However, when you look for a good but simple recipe you find words like 'pate fermente', 'goggles', 'solution of water and lye' etc. I don't think so.

So, after some experimentation here is the simplest recipe that I found and altered that works well. It produces soft, shiny, golden, salty pretzels.

Makes 12 large pretzels
2 teaspoons instant yeast/1 sachet
2 tablespoons brown sugar
375g  white bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
500ml warm milk

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Warm the milk and add the yeast to activate it (the milk must not be hot, just warm).
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl but leave about a third of the flour out to one side. 

Mix in the milk and yeast until it makes a kind of thick batter.
Then add the rest of the flour a little at a time until you make a ball of dough that you can knead. You may not need to use it all.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it becomes springy. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave for 1 hour in a warm place until it has almost doubled in size.
After that, knead briefly and then you are ready to roll it out.

Divide the dough into 12 equal(ish) pieces. Roll each piece out into a sausage shape. To begin with this might be quite tricky because the dough might keep springing back. If this happens, roll them out as far as they'll go, leave them for 5 minutes and then when you come back to them they will have relaxed and should be easier to roll. 

(NB. I thought that mine were thin enough but they puff up a lot when they cook, so try to keep them fairly thin).
Take one piece at a time and lay it out in front of you. Then take hold of both ends, take them upwards and cross them over  - as in the picture.
Then, hold the dough where it crosses over and pull the top section down until it just overlaps the bottom of the loop.

(This all sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Once you've had a go and finish the first one, the rest are easy.)
Once you have shaped them, place them on a lightly floured baking tray covered with baking parchment.

Here comes the weird bit. Next, you need to boil each pretzel!
I know. But if you dont, they will come out like crusty bread. The boiling creates the glossy, soft bagel-like crust.
Take one at a time and place into gently boiling water. It's a good idea to put each pretzel on a fish slice/spatula so that they don't break up. Dunk each one into the water for only 5seconds each and then return them to the baking tray.


Beat one egg.. 

and brush a little all over each boiled pretzel.

Sprinkle each with some rock salt. 
Place in the oven for around 15minutes but keep an eye on them and take them out when they look golden brown.
Eat immediately with good butter and a little mustard.
I had never made these before and was really pleased with the result. They tasted good and although it sounded complicated, this version of the recipe makes it as easy as possible. Now that I've had a go it wouldn't be difficult at all a second time around. As you can see, mine look rather too fat! So, next time I shall attempt to roll them out a little thinner. 
These are well worth a try - they don't keep very well but that didn't matter as they were all eaten within two days. Success!

P.S. Don't forget to serve these with some good beer.

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