Every morning on my way to work I walk past a German bakery with their pretzels and buns on full display. I'm often tempted to get a morning pretzel, then again in the evening when I pass it on my way home, but rarely give in to the temptation for the fear of 1 – judgement of the people around me and 2 – (to a lesser extent) exceeding my day's calorie intake. It's not like I track what I eat that diligently, but do I really need to eat bread before a proper dinner? Usually the answer is no.
Throughout the month of July I was doing 'Try July', a program with the broad premise of being 'good'. 'Good' meaning eating clean-ish, no alcohol, only eating out twice a week and consistently going to the gym. Now that July's over I've loosened the reins and am indulging myself. I'm actually currently enjoying a glass of wine as I write this. Try July was fine – I didn't find it that difficult, but I found myself making up for the thrill of eating with shopping. So... I purchased a Kitchenaid. Kneading dough. What do I love? Carbs. What's a Kitchenaid stand mixer good for? Enter: the pretzel.
This was the recipe I used. I didn't have any course salt so I just used table salt.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 1/4 cups plain flour
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt for the dough, extra for sprinkling
- 1/3 cup baking soda
Warm milk up on the stove and the sprinkle yeast and sugar in together. The recipe calls for the sugar to be added later, but sugar helps the yeast activate. Make sure the milk isn't scalding so it doesn't kill the yeast.
Once the milk and yeast mixture has started to bubble, mix with half the flour, salt and two tablespoons of butter. Once well combined, mix in the rest of the flour. Should be quite tacky.
Knead until the dough is smooth and allow to rise in a warm place for at least an hour or until it's doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 200ºC. Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups of water on the heat. As that's heating up, punch the dough and divide the dough into evenly sized pieces. I divided it into eight pieces because I'm not great at dividing anything into any number that's not 2ⁿ.
Roll out the dough into ropes. Roll out them out thinner than looks right. Trust me. Then shape.
Turn down the heat on the baking soda mixture to a simmer and dip the pretzels in, flipping once. Lay them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt/whatever takes your fancy and bake for 10–15 mins, or until they're deep brown. I used some everything bagel sprinkles from Trader Joe's.
Ten minutes into baking, your kitchen should smell like a bakery and you should be in a state of bliss.
There you go. Pretzels at home. V simple and v scrumptious. I have had a pretzel from the German place I walk past daily and I'm going to be honest.. mine are better.