Pretzel Baking (120th new thing).
August 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
Years ago I channel-surfed through an episode of Good Eats and paused to check it out. It was about making pretzels, like the big buttery salt dipped ones you find in a mall. I think I turned off the TV after there was talk of dipping the dough in lye. I still stop by the pretzel stand whenever I am mall shopping to grab some of those buttery pretzel nuggets.
So when I saw an at-home baking kit for Auntie Anne’s pretzels at the local grocery store, I immediately scooped up the box. I thought it would be kind of cool to make a snack of pretzels in the comfort of my own kitchen. Mostly I was excited about creating the loopy shape. So on Day 120 I pulled out the pretzel kit and set about making some of my own afternoon snacks.
I mixed together the yeast and flour like pretzel starter with warm water per the directions until it formed a ball of dough. Then I kneaded it with the flour to make an even rounder, less sticky glob that was to sit covered outside in the sweltering heat to rise. I was pleased to see that the dough more than doubled in size. Yeast is a weird thing.
And then came the fun part. I cut the dough into strips and began to form my pretzels. It was actually pretty easy to pull and twist the elastic. After a few traditional looking pretzels I moved on to making my initials in cursive. I dipped the formed shapes into a baking soda bath bath and laid them out on an oven-bound pan.
I sprinkled salt on both trays of pretzel dough per the instructions, but looking back I think that should have been done after the warm bread came out. And on one batch I brushed butter both before and after they cooked. I think those tasted better than the ones who only received their butter brushing after they came out of the oven. The mall ones are always dripping with butter.
The pretzels themselves tasted alright (a little salty actually), but not nearly as good as the fast-food version. I think buttering them up during the process several times and adding salt after they’ve cooked would improve the flavor. And they didn’t keep very well; the moisture and salt turned the pretzel bits to pruny looking shriveled nuggets. Pretzels should be relegated to a simple mall treat instead of an huge afternoon snack.