Saturday, August 24, 2013

Crunchy Pretzels | We Knead to Bake #8

I tasted pretzels few years and was fascinated by it. I am not a  great fan of too crunchy things, but the saltiness and the knotty shape made me hold them at a  distance with awe. Though I had tried softer pretzels and even tried stuffing them, hard crunchy ones always eluded me. 

But this time thanks to We Knead to Bake, where Aparna chose Alton Brown's recipe from FoodNetwork I did bake the crunchiest and hard pretzels which can definitely give complex to any commercially manufactured pretzels. 

So crunch on..

Ingredients:

Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Luke warm Water: 1 and 3/4 cups 

All Purpose Flour: 4.5 cups + more for dusting
Salt: 2 tsp (adjust if sprinkling with pretzel salt)

Water: 6 cups
Baking Soda: 2 tbsp

Pretzel salt/sea salt: for sprinkling

Preparation:
In a bowl, mix together yeast,sugar and luke warm water. Let it sit for five minutes till it turns frothy. Will instant yeast this step is optional but I followed it.

In a food processor, mix in the flour,salt and the yeast mixture and blend in until the flour is incorporated. A dough starts forming and take out once it starts pulling away from the sides.

Turn the dough onto a lightly dusted surface and knead on adding more flour if needed to get a smooth,moist non sticky elastic dough.You can do this step in the food processor as well.

Once the dough is formed place it in a oiled bowl, turning once to coat with oil and let it sit covered with a towel or a foodwrap until it doubles in size. This takes an hour or so.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and deflate it so as to remove most of the air.

Roll out the dough into a 12' x 12' square and using a pizza cutter divide it into equal sized pieces.
At this stage, my dough was not a perfect square and I ended up with different sized pieces. But still I could work with these.

Once  the pieces are formed, make ready a plate/cookie sheet by lightly greasing with oil. Also keep ready another baking sheet by lining it with parchment/aluminium foil and lightly oiling on top. Also lighly oil your hands as you are about work with each individual pieces.

Flatten each piece of dough and roll into a tightly cylinder. Then slowly roll it out into a thin rope. The rope should be thinner than a pencil and almost 1' in diameter.

Then shape into a pretzel and place on the greased plate/cookie/sheet. Repeat this process with as many dough pieces as needed to make a batch. My shaping is not perfect but yes you can get a mastery over it by practicing on the umpteen pieces. :-D

Meanwhile bring water to boil and slowly add the soda. It will first bubble up and then settle down. Cook the pretzels for not more than 30 seconds in this soda bath. Slowly remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on lined and greased baking sheet.

Sprinkle pretzel/sea salt atop them along with egg wash if using. I didnt opt for egg wash.

Bake the pretzels in a preheated oven at 180C for 40- 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and shiy and the pretzels are hard. Mine was done under 30 minutes. So it depends on the batch size and better to keep an eye after 20 minutes.

Take and cool for a few minutes on the sheet after which remove to the rack to cool completely. This will also take few minutes after which store in air tight containers to prevent them from turning chewy.



Yum yum and yum. Perfect pretzels that will give the market ones a run for their money...

For me they are perfect midnight snacks.. or anytime snacks as well.


Hope over to Aparna's Post for We Knead to Bake #8 to find who all crunched the pretzels.

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