Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sourdough Soft Pretzels

Recipe adapted from various sources.

Soft pretzels really are a labor of love. They aren't quick to make, but they are delicious. This fall I've been on a major "make it at home" kick. I've stopped buying jam and jelly at the store. I can make my own at home and can the resulting deliciousness. We're getting away from store bought bread, and that means homemade loaves that we like.

Sourdough is one of my favorite sandwich breads. It suits my lifestyle. Yes, it takes patience and planning to have sourdough starter lying around, but once you have the starter this is a 15 Minute Bread. You stir, abandon, knead, abandon, knead again, abandon, and then bake! Total time actually spent in the kitchen or the house with abandoned bread? Less than 45 minutes if you include the bake time.

The pretzels take a little bit more effort, but the basic sourdough bread is there. I usually split my dough so I have a small loaf, and a batch of palm-sized soft pretzels for snacks.

Sourdough Starter
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup warm water (90 seconds in microwave)
- 1 packet yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar

Combine all ingredients in large mason jar. Cover with cheese cloth held down by a rubber band. Let sit on counter for at least three days. The jar will need to be stirred several times the first day, and once every day thereafter. The starter needs to be refreshed (fed) every week whether it is used or not. Add a heaping tablespoon of flour and a teaspoon of sugar or honey every week.

- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 packet of yeast
- 3 cups bread flour
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups warm water (90 seconds in microwave)
- 3 teaspoons butter
- 2 teaspoons sugar

Heat water and butter – the water should be warmer than bath water but not boiling. Stir together sourdough starter, yeast, sugar, and the bread flour. Add the water and baking soda. Slowly mix in the unbleached flour.

Knead for several minutes until no flour stick to the side of the bowl.

Set in a warm place to rise for 1-4 hours. You can preheat the oven to 350 for a few minutes, then turn off the oven and stick the bowl in there to rise as long as it isn’t hot. The oven should feel slightly to warm for comfort, but if it is too hot the yeast will due.

After the dough has risen knead it again for five minutes.

Bread-- Grease loaf pan or the locking rim on a springform pan (to shape round loaves). Place the kneaded loaf in the pan and let rise until double in size (1-4 hours depending on temp). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

- White from one egg
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- Kosher salt or other large rock salt for sprinkling
- Large pot of water for boiling
Divide dough into fist sized balls. Let balls sit five minutes to relax than roll out into long snakes.

To fold the pretzel grab the snake in the middle, cross the ribbons twice, then fold the ribbons back up the the body of the snake and pinch the dough together.
Let the pretzels sit and rise for 30-60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 475.

Fill a pot large enough to accommodate 2-3 pretzels at a time and fill halfway with water. Add the baking soda and bring to a low boil. A full rolling boil will be to hot.

Bake for 4 minutes at 475. Remove pretzels and turn oven down to 350.

Drop pretzels into boiling water in batches. Boil for 1 minute on each side.

Place boiled pretzels on baking sheet and brush with egg whites. Sprinkle salt over the pretzels. Bake for 15-25 minutes until pretzels are golden brown. Enjoy!

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