Sunday, July 26, 2009

Update on Pretzels

I learned how to make soft pretzels and one day when I was kneading some dough for some goodies, I thought it would be nice to knead some dough for a batch of soft pretzels, thinking it would not take too long for me to make them.
Maybe a week at the most for the dough to sit in the freezer.
It turns out it took me maybe a month.
So far nothing adventurous.
Knead, freeze, thaw, shape, proof, dip in bicarbonate water, bake, cool, enjoy !
Or so was MY plan.
It turns out that frozen dough doesn't seem to taste as good as fresh one.
Nor do I recommend you knead ahead and freeze anything hoping it will save you time when the baking moment comes.
The end result may not taste good, and in the end you will have wasted both time and the ingredients.
Here is what you need for the soft pretzels:

1 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
extra 8 TBSP butter for dipping at the end
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt
cinnamon sugar (1 TBSP cinnamon to every 2 TBSP sugar)
if you like, use poppy seeds and sesame seeds too

Warm the milk in a saucepan until it is about 110 degrees.
Pour the milk into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast.
Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon.
Dice the butter and soften it before stirring into the mix.
Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Let the dough in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 F and grease a large baking sheet.
Punch the dough down to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
If the dough seems tight, cover and let it rest until it relaxes.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces.
I used the kitchen scale and divided the dough in 8 pieces this time.
Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope if you decide to mke 6 normal size pretzels.
Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.

Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish.
Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt.
If you plan on dipping the pretzels in butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over, do not sprinkle salt over them.
Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a shallow dish.
Dip the hot pretzels in the butter, turning to coat and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over.
Place the pretzels on a wire rack to let excess butter drip off.
Serve the pretzels warm.

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