I had eaten hard Pretzels many moons ago and frankly speaking they did not rock my boat at all. So when Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen decided that we would bake Pretzels for this month’s Knead to Bake group, I just was not sure whether I wanted to bake them at all.
Then Aparna mentioned that we could also try the soft version and I felt I should try the soft ones as they sounded delicious. I really enjoyed doing them and they smelled incredibly good.
I have baked plain Pretzels but you can really go crazy by using different types of toppings to enhance their flavor and taste. Pretzels are made with Bread dough and then boiled and baked so they have this delicious chewy texture.
Pretzels have a distinctive knot like shape and doing the knots took a bit of a practice for me. They are very common in Europe and have lots of stories associated with their origin. My favorite one is the in 610 AD an Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest, ‘pretiola’ (“little rewards”)”.
I personally feel that it doesn’t matter where they have originated from, end of the day they are terrific in taste and something that I would be baking a lot of.
Here is the recipe :
2 1/4 tsp dried active yeast (I used instant Yeast)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup warm milk (the temperature should be just lukewarm or your Yeast will die)
3 cups + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6 cups water
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp cornmeal or semolina
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
1) In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm milk and allow that to stand for about 5 minutes.
2) Add the 3 cups flour and salt to the proofed yeast and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will feel slightly sticky, so add a bit of flour as and when necessary while kneading. This should take about 8 minutes.
3) Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough with oil. Cover and allow the dough to rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
4) Deflate the dough, cover and let it rest 5 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal portions.
5) Work with one portion at a time and cover remaining dough to prevent it drying. Roll each portion into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal. Place pretzels on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise only slightly).
6) Put the 6 cups of water and baking soda in a steel pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer. Gently lower a pretzel into the simmering water. Cook on each side for about 15 seconds. The pretzel will swell/ puff up a bit. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a greased wire rack. This will prevent the pretzel from sticking to the rack. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
7) Place the pretzels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 220C (425F) for 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
8) Serve warm with a dip of your choice or just plain. They’re best eaten fresh, and on the same day. This recipe makes 12 Pretzels.
Recipe Source – My Diverse Kitchen