Okay. They’re not perfect, but they’re not bad for a first try either!
I cannot even begin to describe to you how much I am loving all the bread-baking that I’m doing this month. It’s like the doors to the world of flour and yeast have been unlocked and I’ve passed through them, never to turn back.
My dough hook has been retired and I’m kneading, kneading, kneading all the time, notwithstanding the no-knead bread phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. I spent most of Sunday afternoon in a warm kitchen kneading to my heart’s content and occasionally looking out the window at a squirrel foraging for some last minute food before winter really hits us.
Am I worried? Nope. Why? Because I am baking bread!
And what type of bread did I bake today? Pretzels.
While I’m not completely sure if pretzels qualify as a bread, they do require flour, yeast and water and my new favourite activity: kneading. I’d never made pretzels before and my decision to attempt them came about after Lisa of La Mia Cucina and I happened to come up with the idea of baking pretzels. Since neither of us had ever tried it, we decided it would be fun for both of us to bake pretzels on the same day and post about it. We both tried the same recipe. You can head over to Lisa’s blog to read about her journey into pretzel world.
As for my experience, I decided to try a recipe for hot-buttered pretzels from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. After reading the description of the pretzels, they sounded very much like the sort of pretzels I used to enjoy when I was a child. There was a nearby vendor that we would buy them from and my favourite were the buttered pretzels sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
I didn’t stray too far when trying the King Arthur version. I used unbleached all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, instant yeast and warm water. After mixing and kneading the dough for about 8 minutes, I let it rest for an hour during which time the dough expanded to almost double the original size.
I then divided the dough into eight equal pieces, and rolled each piece into a long rope. I twisted the rope into a pretzel shape with a double twist down the middle. As the recipe directed, I dipped the unbaked pretzel in warm water mixed with sugar, sprinkled them with kosher salt and then let the pretzels rest for a bit before going into the oven.
I baked the pretzels at 500 degrees F, however, I baked them for longer than the recipe directed (about 12 minutes). Once they’d cooled, I enjoyed them with some spicy mustard. They were delicious!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have seven more pretzels that require my attention!
Hot Buttered Pretzels
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.
For the dough:
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
- 1 cup warm water (you may need a little more)
For the pretzel topping:
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- kosher salt
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Work the ingredients together until you can form a ball. If the dough is very dry, add a bit more warm water until it comes together. The dough will look messy, but don’t worry about it.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading by pushing the dough away with the heel of your hand, and then folding it back in onto itself. Push the dough away again and then fold back in. Continue this motion, working the dough until it’s smooth. This should take anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can knead the dough in a mixer with your dough hook for 5 to 6 minutes).
- Once the dough is done, sprinkle some flour on the dough and put it in a large, oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes to an hour. It will rise considerably.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and set aside.
- Taking hold of the ends of the rope, cross the rope over itself to form a circle with about 4 to 5 inches on each end that are sticking out. Twist the ends over themselves and secure each end on either side of the pretzel.
- Carefully dip the pretzel in the water and then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
- Sprinkle the pretzels with the kosher salt and let them rest for about 15 minutes.
- Put the pretzels in the oven for 6 minutes, then rotate the trays and bake for an additional 6 minutes. Keep an eye on the pretzels so that they don’t burn.
- Remove the pretzels from the oven and immediately brush them with the butter. Keep brushing them with butter until you’ve used it all.
- Serve the pretzels warm with plenty of mustard or another condiment of your choice.
Divide your dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a long rope that’s roughly 24 inches in length. (Don’t make it too long or your pretzels will be too thin.)