Baking means a lot to me. It has become my lifeline over past two years. And I know, it isn’t any secret anymore. Not baking on weekend is something I just can’t think of. And I hope this love continues forever.
I bake a lot of cakes, cookies and tarts. But when it comes to bread, I felt a bit uncomfortable handling yeast until last bread I baked was this Crusty Artisan Bread. And it was such a breeze baking it, that it helped lessened my struggle with yeast. Wonderful results with minimum efforts.
But I admit that I bake less bread. I had this remembering of having pretzels during my stay in US. I never became a fan of those salty mini snack-y pretzels from a plastic bag. No offence, but somehow I always found them soapy and lacking freshness.
But once, my friend introduced me to their bigger and softer counterpart. And to my surprise, I liked them a lot. A good on the go snack to munch on, out of a brown paper bag, while you walk and shop around the malls.
These pretzels are fun to make and they don’t require any expertise in bread baking too. All you have to do is a good alive yeast and follow the instructions and you are all set to rock the kitchen! If your yeast doesn’t foam well, it’s better to discard it than to keep waiting forever for your dough to rise and shine. It’s such a relief watching your dough rising calmly. You know , that your bread will be all well.
The ingredients are fairly simple and don’t even require you to go shopping. You can spice them up with whatever nice zingy spice you have with you. And in case, you like your old classics, you may leave them as is with a generous sprinkling of coarse sea salt. I know, you must be thinking, what happens to pretzel salt? Well, I didn’t have that, so found the sea salt a better alternative.
They are a bit time consuming, because you have to poach them, but trust me, all that effort is worth putting in. So go for them!
Recipe minimally adapted from Martha Stewart
Yields 8-9 mini pretzels
1 cup warm water (42 degree C to 45 degree C)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 packet active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 salt
1 + 2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp zaatar spice
coarse sea salt
- Pour warm water, half of sugar and yeast in the bowl of your food processor. Let it rest for 10 minutes. It should yield a good foam on top.
- Add 1/4 cup of flour to yeast and mix on low speed until combined. Add salt and 2 cups of flour and mix until combined. Beat on low speed until dough pulls away from sides of the food processor bowl, around 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes, until smooth.
- Pour 1 tsp oil into a large bowl. Transfer dough to the bowl and swirl to coat the sides of the bowl and the dough. Cover with kitchen towel and let rest for 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 230 degree C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper slightly. Punch the dough and knead briefly and divide into 8 equal parts. Roll one piece of dough into an 18 inch long strip. Twist into pretzel shape. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, cover with kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes, until they rise slightly.
- Meanwhile, fill a large shallow pot with water and bring to boil. Add baking soda and remaining sugar. Reduce to simmer. Transfer 3-4 pretzels at a time to the boiling water and poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels back to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
- In two separate small bowls, mix 1 tsp each of oil and minced garlic to paprika and zaatar spice and rub the pretzels thoroughly with the oil and spice mix, with half of the pretzels with each oil and spice mix. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes and then under the grill for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack and eat warm.