PRETZEL BREAD

 

February 1, 2015

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What fun I had making Pretzel Bread. I never considered it was possible to make Soft Pretzels at home, but now that I’ve made them, I see Pretzels in every book on my shelf. It’s funny, the more you experience, the more you notice in the world around you. Biting into my first homemade Pretzel Bread got me so excited. They tasted just like the pretzels I use to buy from the street trucks in NYC. It’s been so long since I had a pretzel like this, that I’d forgotten the real flavor of a soft pretzel. They were strikingly easy to make and I’m really proud of myself. - I just want to say a few words about the ingredients necessary for making Pretzel Bread. I went to a great deal of trouble hunting down the malt powder and lye (sodium hydroxide). For malt powder , I scoured Canada and was unsuccessful in my search. I guess brands don't think enough Canadians make bread. My solution was just to throw money at the problem and be patient while the ubiquitous-in-the-US malt powder arrived at my door.

The lye was a different story. Never having considered using it as an ingredient, it took me a while to find a brand that I felt comfortable enough using. Even if I used the sodium hydroxide sold as drain cleaner (lye at its impure state), at a 4% solution, I doubt anything much would have happened to me; however, I have to want to eat the pretzels after I bake them. Rick being a chemist, found me a brand that was pure enough for my purposes. It wasn’t until after the pretzels were baked and tasted that he told me a story about a highly concentrated sodium hydroxide solution that blew a tanker off its bolts. He thought that was funny.

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Instructions

  • I just want to say a few words about the ingredients necessary for making Pretzel Bread. I went to a great deal of trouble hunting down the malt powder and lye (sodium hydroxide). For malt powder , I scoured Canada and was unsuccessful in my search. I guess brands don't think enough Canadians make bread. My solution was just to throw money at the problem and be patient while the ubiquitous-in-the-US malt powder arrived at my door.
  • The lye was a different story. Never having considered using it as an ingredient, it took me a while to find a brand that I felt comfortable enough using. Even if I used the sodium hydroxide sold as drain cleaner (lye at its impure state), at a 4% solution, I doubt anything much would have happened to me; however, I have to want to eat the pretzels after I bake them. Rick being a chemist, found me a brand that was pure enough for my purposes. It wasn’t until after the pretzels were baked and tasted that he told me a story about a highly concentrated sodium hydroxide solution that blew a tanker off its bolts. He thought that was funny.

The lye crystals that I used for the pretzel bread.
The lye crystals that I used for the pretzel bread.

MIX THE PRETZEL DOUGH

The dry ingredients of the Pretzel Bread.
The dry ingredients of the Pretzel Bread.

  • Initially the dough didn’t form a ball, so I was forced to add 1 tsp of water. After that it come together as described.

Pretzel Bread dough.
Pretzel Bread dough.

  • I let it rest for the prescribed hour, and to my surprise, it didn’t rise hardly at all. Usually, the dough will puff some and form air pockets, but not for this dough. It was a very stiff, smooth and pliable.

Resting the dough for an hour.
Resting the dough for an hour.

  • I cut the pieces willy-nilly withoutweigh ing them, and in retrospect, I should have been more precise because the baking times for the smaller pretzels were different.

Cutting the pretzel bread dough willy nilly.
Cutting the pretzel bread dough willy nilly.

  • Still, shaping the pretzels took some time. I wanted them to look like footballs and not pretzel nuggets. And I was impressed with how quickly the dough dried out even in the earliest stages of handling. It kept forming a dry crust after just a few minutes.

The final 12 pieces of pretzel bread dough
The final 12 pieces of pretzel bread dough

  • I wondered why refrigerating them uncovered for one hour was important and I worried that leaving them in the fridge for three hours (that's what I did) would be the end of them.

Pretzel bread in football shapes.
Pretzel bread in football shapes.

MAKING THE LYE SOLUTION

  • I felt so concerned about the lye, that I took every precaution. Rick has a gas mask with vapour cartridges downstairs, and I considered wearing it, but then I thought better. I wouldn’t allow making pretzels to become a drama. The lye dissolved nicely and it didn’t splash around. I survived.

Lye crystals.
Lye crystals.

SLASH AND GLAZE THE DOUGH

Slashing the pretzel breads.
Slashing the pretzel breads.

  • The moment of truth. I suited up with those thick and cumbersome red rubber gloves and got to it. I dipped the first pretzel in the solution and it became soft and very slippery.

Dipping the pretzel breads in the lye solution.
Dipping the pretzel breads in the lye solution.

  • Of course the breads got slippery. Lye is one of the primary ingredients in making soap. I dipped them briefly in the solution and set them on the tray. I’ve since read Thomas Keller pretzel recipe in which he says to leave the pretzel in the solution for at least 40 seconds. I wonder how more lye glaze would change the final pretzel?

Salting the glazed pretzel breads.
Salting the glazed pretzel breads.Salted and glazed pretzel breads.
Salted and glazed pretzel breads.

BAKE THE PRETZEL BREADS

  • They baked easily and quickly, and they puffed substantially while in the oven. What a transformation. They looked like real pretzels and smelled like real pretzels, but did they taste like a real pretzel? YES!

Baked Pretzel Breads.
Baked Pretzel Breads.

  • I also noted that there were areas that I didn’t glaze well with the solution and those areas didn’t brown at all. They stayed white as a lily, as were the inside of the slashes. Fascinating. In conclusion, I had great fun with this recipe.

Pretzel Breads, The Finer Cookie
Pretzel Breads, The Finer Cookie

  • WHAT ARE THE ALPHA BAKERS? : Here's how it works: once a month, for the next two years, 25 Alpha Bakers commit to baking their way through every recipe of Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible . Each month we post our experiences on our blog sites: our successes, our failures, our like and dislikes . The recipes are scheduled in advance so that everyone is baking the same recipe at the same time. No recipes can be shared in my Alpha Bakers Bread Bible posts due to publishing restrictions enforced by the publisher, but if you love to bake bread, this is a must-have book. You can see other tutorials for the same recipe at the following link The Bread Bible Alpha Bakers at http://breadbiblealphabakers.blogspot.ca/
TAGS:  THE BREAD BIBLE       LABELS: Alpha Bakers 

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PRETZEL BREAD

Ingredients
Instructions

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