Sunday, March 27, 2011

Peter Reinhart's Soft Pretzels


These pretzels definitely qualify as pretzels and forgive me the arrogance here, I think I know how a pretzel should taste. Back in Germany hardly a day passed where I would not pick up one or two pretzels from a bakery during my lunch break.

Back then you could have definitely called me a pretzel addict, but in the United States I was restricted to the frozen ones which let me give up my addiction after eating them once or twice.

But now I am back and extremely happy that I found this recipe! I was amazed how authentic the taste was. Even though Peter Reinhart does not use a lye bath, the baking soda/water mixture is a great substitute. They came out really crunchy on the bottom and unbelievably soft inside. I was honestly not expecting that the taste will be so similar to what I was used to and I would even say they are better.

I have to improve my shaping skills as you can see on the pictures, but no matter in which shape your pretzels end up, they will be great. Instead of twisting them, you could also do rolls or sticks. And don't restrict yourself to the salt topping. Try sesame seeds or poppy seeds, they will taste awesome.





After combining the flour, salt, and sugar add the water/yeast mixture and the oil. Mix with a spoon.

After one minute of mixing you should be left with a coarse ball.

Now continue mixing by hand for about 2 minutes and subsequently let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Again mix by hand for 3 minutes.



On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for one minute.


Place the ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
On the next day roll out 17 inches long ropes.
Shaping Step 1.
Shaping Step 2.
Shaping Step 3.
Dip the pretzel entirely in your baking soda/water solution.


Soft Pretzels
Recipe by Peter Reinhart originally published in: Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day

Makes 12 to 17 pretzels.


Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups (20 oz/567 g) unbleached bread flour  

1 3/4 teaspoons (0.4 oz/11 g) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons (0.75 oz/21 g) brown sugar

1 teaspoon (0.11 oz/3 g) instant yeast 
 

1 1/2 cups (12 oz/340 g) lukewarm water ( about 95 degrees F or 35 degrees C)

2 tablespoons (1 oz/28.5 g) vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
 

8 teaspoons (2 oz/57 g) baking soda, for dipping

2 cups (16 oz/454 g) warm water (about 100 degrees F or 38 degrees C)

Pretzel salt or coarse sea salt, for garnish



Preparation:
 

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, and sugar. In a different bowl, combine the water and yeast and let sit for about 1 minute. Next, add the water/yeast mixture and the oil into the bowl with the flour, salt, and sugar.

Use a wooden spoon and stir everything together. It should not take longer than a minute and you should be left with a coarse ball. Now continue mixing by hand for about 2 minutes and subsequently let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Again mix by hand for 3 minutes, adjusting the water or flour as needed to form a smooth, lightly tacky ball. On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for one minute, form a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator overnight or up to 4 days.

On the day you plan to bake combine the baking soda with warm water in a bowl. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or 204 degrees C. Right after taking the dough out of the refrigerator roll 2-ounce (56.5 g) pieces into 17 inches long ropes for smaller pretzels and 3-ounce (85 g) for larger pretzels. If the roll shrinks back, just repeat the process. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and mist with spray oil. Form the dough into pretzels (see above) and dip them into the baking soda/water solution. Place them on the pan and sprinkle lightly with salt or any other topping you like (e.g. sesame seeds). Bake for about 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake another 8 to 10 minutes. Let the pretzels cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

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