Thursday, 25 May 2017

A taste of Germany at home: Pretzels

I absolutely love pretzels. Not the small crisp ones you get at bowls on bars but the large, buttery and hot pretzels you can buy at stalls. They have a really unique flavour and are so delicious.




I had a craving for a pretzel the other day and as luck would have it, every store and bakery close to my home and workplace was sold out. In desperation I decided to make my own and they turned out so well! It did take a while because of waiting for the dough to rise, and shaping it, then having it rise again but they were so delicious that if needs must I would happily make them again.


I looked at two recipes before deciding to just do it on my own; one was an authentic sounding one from bbc good food but it took over 5 hours and I didn't have the patience and the other initially sounded good but when I took a closer look it was just bread shaped like a pretzel. I really craved that deep pretzel flavour but with minimal effort because, I'm lazy haha. Since neither recipe was really what I wanted, I gave it a go on my own and it turned out pretty great. If you want to make them you will need:

-3 mugs of strong bread flour
-lukewarm water
-100ml of milk
-dried action yeast 
-1 tbsp of sugar
-3 tbsp of butter (melted)
-3tbsp of baking soda
-rock salt

This makes 6 giant pretzels. It would probably make 10 normal ones but I'm greedy so only 6 for me haha.

Mix the sugar, yeast and lukewarm water together then leave the mix for about 5 minutes. In the mean time sift the flour and add in the butter, a pinch of salt and half of the milk. Mix everything together to form the dough and add more milk/flour as you need.


Then knead the dough for about 5 minutes. If you can be bothered, knead it for 10, but I just don't have the tolerance for that, I gave it a bit of a pummel and then gave up! 



Once you're done, shape it into a ball and put it in a floured bowl.



Cover with a tea towel and leave it somewhere cosy to rise.


I left mine for about an hour until mine had double in size but you could leave it for longer. Then take the dough out and divide it into 6 before rolling it with your hands to form long sausages. You want them to be long enough to get the pretzel shape - aim for about 40 centimetres.

To make the pretzel follow this high-tech info-graphic I made (haha):


Seal the ends of the pretzel with a bit of water then leave them on a baking tray to rise; I left them for about half an hour. Once they're risen, preheat the oven to 200 oC before the most important step of all. You can't leave this next bit out; it's what makes the pretzel taste like a pretzel instead of just regular bread. Add the baking soda (spoonful by spoonful) to a pot of hot water and let it boil. Mine foamed up quite alarmingly at first but keep stirring it to stop it from overflowing.
Then carefully lower your pretzels into the water one by one with a spatula. Let the pretzel sit in the water for about 5 seconds before taking them out. Mine looked like they had been coated in a thin layer of foam - this is fine, do not panic. 

Sprinkle them with as much rock salt as you like and put them in the oven. I had mine in for 20 minutes and then I turned them over to make them crispy at the bottom as well.  If you made smaller ones the 20 minutes would probably be fine and you might not need to turn them so just keep an eye out and make sure they tun dark brown before you take them out.


Beautiful.

Melt a little bowl with butter and tear and dip the hot pretzel in.




Or you can prepare the pretzel like a sandwich with bratwurst and pickles or even with cheese. They're delicious cold as well, if you can wait that long.


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