22 August 2007

Pretzel Powa!

Loverly, with stone ground mustard

Pretzels have power, in case you were clueless of the fact. You know, carbohydrates = calories = energy = powa! Why, what were yoooou thinking? It doesn't matter, even if pretzels weren't powafull I'd still eat them.

I'm not speaking of tiny, crisp pretzels (though those are amazing dipped in various dippins, such as natural peanut butter, flavored peanut butter, hummus, white bean dip, tuna... I'll stop while I'm ahead), I'm speaking of soft pretzels (which would also taste good dipped in the aforementioned dippins).

Before I elaborate on how it went down, my dad was talking of the lye dip, and hearing what he said confirms that I will never be lye-dipping. The pretzels. He said that he and his friend were contemplating how to remove the really bad clog of his friend's kitchen drain. They decided to use lye (something about that particular brand... Drano, I think it was, that used to have lye? Okay, after a quick search, they use sodium hydroxide, which is soda lye... holy horrors, it's made from ashes... eww, and toothpaste, cologne, body wash... This is a sick world we live in, SICK world!) and decided to pour down more than the recommended amount because the drain was REALLY clogged. The good part is that the drain cleared up. The bad part was the fumes became so intense, they had to immediately evacuate the premises for a few hours.

Need to knead
Kneading action

Oh, the shapes, squares and snakes!

Back to soft pretzels. I made them. I ate them. Okay, that was stupid! For reasons of unexplainable reasons, I have never made soft pretzels before. Making them confirmed my stupidity. Heed from my mistakes. YOOU! Make da pretzel, harness tha POWA! But don't fight the power -- that'll negate the soft pretzel effect.

I did briefly boil these in boiling water and baking soda and I think it helped the crust come out closer to what you would associate a soft pretzel to taste like than a non-dipped pretzel. The outtards (or in bread terms, the crust) were nice and chewy, a bit crispy from coming out of the oven but not like artisan crispy, and the innards (or crumb) was soft, tasted better than a regular white bread despite being practically the exact same dough. Hmm, not practically, it was. But it had a different taste. Not sourdough-y, but seemingly richer and with a heightened flavor. It was good, so there.

Post-boiled pretzels

See the baked-ness of it?

I used the recipe from Emeril Lagasse's There's A Chef In My Soup, with a few tweaks in the process. He has you mixing the oil and all the brown sugar with the yeast/milk mixture, I did a teaspoon of sugar and added the oil after it finished the yeast activation. I didn't grease the bowl with two tablespoons of oil. The rest of the brown sugar was mixed with the flour and salt, and when I added that to the yeasted milk, it was a bit dry so I added enough water to maintain a stiff and slightly tacky dough. Then, I boiled it per the method of The Fresh Loaf's pretzel process. Then, I sprinkled some with kosher salt and baked until a rich, golden brown color occurred.

This was reeeaaally gooood, mwfuwahchomp-ness

The next day, I chose the pretzel that didn't have any holes because of how it rose/how I formed it, and it made the most amazing bread for a sandwich, ever! I opted for a vegetable and cheese sandwich, mainly so the bread's taste could come through, and how it did! I faintly remember eating a sandwich from Bennigan's that was made with pretzel bread and this reminded me of that.

This is actually the first sammich (that I can recall) that I've had this month

sammich innards
The bread was dense enough to not become a lump of wet bread, but not dense enough to be dry and disgusting

Now, my brain has gone into overdrive by trying to come up with ways to make flavored pretzels. Cinnamon-raisin, orange-cinnamon-raisin, asiago cheese pretzels, sun-dried tomato pretzels, the possibilities are endless!


  1. Wow!!! I've always wanted to try to make pretzels. You may have inspired me to try it very soon! Because I have hundreds of other things to do (like get a job, pack up all my stuff, get a place to live, and move), but pretzel making sounds more fun that all of that.

  2. Make pretzels! And tell me how it worked out for you.

  3. Bill_the_Baker15 August, 2011 16:38

    Hey everyone, just wanted to stop by and remind you that Essential Depot ( www.essentialdepot.com ) is selling high quality food grade lye, 2lb's for 3.44 ... A very good price!!

  4. Bill_the_Baker24 August, 2011 15:40

    I feel compelled to share a recipe of my own. so Enjoy! it definitely makes tasty pretzels!!!

    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.


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