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.


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§ 2 Responses to Pretzel Baking (120th new thing).

  • Bill_the_Baker says:

    heres a nice recipe you should try, although rather than baking soda, it involves a lye bath (a lye bath gives the pretzels a much crispier crunchier crust and makes them soooo yummy!!) i agree that lye may be a little scary to work with, especially in foods but just be careful! these pretzels turned out soooo good!!

    2 envelopes dry yeast
    1 qt. milk, 2% is fine
    1/2 c. warm water
    3/4 c. shortening (I mix lard & butter & flavored Crisco)
    1/2 c. sugar
    1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    12 c. all-purpose flour, unsifted
    1 1/2 tbsp. salt
    Coarse salt to sprinkle

    LYE DIP:

    2 level tbsp. lye
    2 quarts. cold water

    Soften yeast in 1/2 cup water. Scald milk. Stir in shortening. Cool . Add yeast with 6 cups flour. Beat, vigorously. Cover, sit in warm place until risen , this takes just about 30 minutes.

    Add remaining flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix until well blended. Turn out on smooth surface. Cover with moist towel 3 minutes. Knead until elastic. Put in big kettle. Cover with towel. Put in warm place and Let rise until it has doubled in size, usually takes 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into quarters then Cut quarters into 12 pieces. Cover with towel. Roll each piece into long strip for twisting. Place on stainless steel baking sheet, then put one at a time, pretzels on slotted, stainless steel lifter, dip very briefly in lye, usually a 3-5 second bath, drain on lifter and place back on sheet. As soon as cookie sheet is full, sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake in 400 degree oven until brown, about 15 minutes. Place on dry towel to cool. Cover twisted pretzels with towel until half raised.

    IMPORTANT: Lye creates a volotile reaction with aluminum! aluminum sheets or dipping tool CANNOT BE USED. Also, I spray sheets with Pam, so there is no sticking.

  • Bill_the_Baker says:

    Those pretzels look so good! i think that the butter made the big difference! my mouth is watering every time i see that pic lol

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