Monday, 5 December 2011

My First Proper Pretzels.


Hello. This is kiiind of my first Christmas post. There's no glitter or baubles or Mariah Carey but making pretzels came as a result of my most festive experience of the year so far. Edinburgh has its Christmas on big time now, lights, music, Santa runs and everything, as well as my absolute favourite part; the German Market. Just before the market opened I was wandering past and saw a sign for 'Hot Spiced Scottish Honey Wine'....so I was keenkeenkeen to pay a visit as soon as poss. And hellllllooooo joy; "cinnamon swirl in mug" is the perfect description of what is basically mulled mead.


This early Christmas trip also included Gluhwein; rather heavy on the brandy, and my first ever proper pretzel, which was one of those 'where have you been all my life?' moments. Chewy pretzelyness on the outside and fluffy, steamy doughyness on the inside- heaven.


Now I'm not saying that the two steaming beverages consumed on an empty stomach prior to my pretzel experience had nothing to do with my gushing praise, but it was definitely too good not to get home and immediately start researching recipes and trust that making them at home was worth the time and effort. 


Please don't be put off making them by their shape, they're actually simplepimle and the recipe looks much harder in words than it is in practice. So boil up some mead, get these a'risin' and you too can have your merry Christmas on. With Love and Cake.


Pretzels

A few notes:
  • This is basically normal white bread dough, shaped, poached and brushed with bicarb. Think of it like that and the recipe won't seem so convoluted.
  • This is my first try at Pretzels, so I will keep you updated of any developments I make to the recipe...I've heard cinnamon sugar ones are the bee's knees. Mmm next time.
  • Definitely best eaten on the day of making, with sweet German mustard if you're a traditionalist.
Makes 6
You will need

a large baking sheet, well greased
a large sauce pan

150ml water
75ml milk
1 tbsp (or 1 sachet) dried yeast
400g white bread flour
1.5 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp flavourless oil

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
rock salt

  • First things first, heat the water and milk to around body temperature and stir in the yeast. Leave to mingle for a few minutes while you measure out the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Combine the liquid with the flour and mix with your hands to a soft dough, adding a little extra water if you need.
  • Spread some oil on a clean surface to stop the dough sticking and knead for around 5 minutes until smooth and springy.
  • Pop the dough back in the bowl and leave in a cosy place for around 1 hour.
  • After that bash the dough around a bit to knock out the air, knead for a few more moments and return to the bowl again.
  • Leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
  • In the mean time preheat your oven to 190°c and bring a big pan of water to the boil.
  • When the dough's ready, cut into six equal sized pieces and shape into pretzel shapes. To do this first you need to roll a long sausage shape, around 50cm in length, with a fat middle, tapering to skinnier ends.
  • Next make a loop with the ends crossed over, as in the picture below.


  • Then swap the ends around to make a twist, as below.



  • And finally fold the ends up to attach on to the chunky middle with a dab of water.



  • Boil each pretzel in the water for around 1 minute, then pat dry with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper and set aside while you combine the bicarb with 100ml of the water from the pan.
  • Dip each pretzel (they're sturdier than you think) in the bicarb solution and pop onto your greased baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with a good few grains of rock salt and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until deep bronze.
  • Cool for a while and then transfer to a wire rack ooor sip Gluwein and eat immediately.







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