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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

 When I was planning for the "accompaniments" or the "complimentary starters" themed dishes for this week's BM, I automatically had to rule out the Indian restaurants since the only complimentary stuff they offer is papads or poppadums, the thin lentil wafers. I don't care much about them and in fact feel like gagging to eat them alone. My initial ideas were revolving around 'Olive Garden's salad and bread sticks and the breads at American restaurants. 
And so I had prepared in advance some bread sticks as planned but the various breads I had bookmarked earlier from here kept tempting me to try one more bread recipe for today. Many American restaurants are trying to do away with the complimentary bread basket as a cost cutting measure but I gather there are still plenty of places that offer good varieties of bread. I read somewhere that a restaurant offers hot, soft pretzels and that prompted me to try this recipe.
 As the name suggests these pretzels hot from the oven are generously buttered. They taste delicious with a soft and chewy texture and we enjoyed them thoroughly. We generally don't like the salt on pretzels and so I omitted it. 

Ingredients for the pretzel dough:
2 & 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 & 1/4 tsp. rapid rise yeast 
7/8 to 1 cup water
Ingredients for the topping:
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. baking soda
Coarse / pretzel salt (optional)
3 tbsp. melted butter 

Dough Preparation:
* The dough can be prepared by hand or by using a mixer or a bread machine or food processor. Add all the dry ingredients in a bowl and beat until combined if using a mixer or preparing manually. Knead the dough for about five minutes, by hand or mixer, until it's soft and smooth. 
If using a bread machine, place the ingredients in the pan of the bread machine and program the the machine for dough / manual and start. Proceed through the kneading cycle and stop the machine.
* Flour the dough and place it in a bowl. Cover and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.
Prep work before baking:
* Prepare the topping at the final stages of the resting period. Combine boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is completely dissolved. Let it cool to lukewarm. Pour the mixture into a 9 inch square pan.
* Prepare the baking sheet by greasing or lining with parchment paper.
* Transfer the mixture onto a greased work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces of about 70 grams or 2.5 oz each. (I divided the mixture into 16 portions instead.) Allow the pieces to rest for about five minutes, uncovered.
* Preheat the oven to 475 deg F / 250 deg C
* Roll each piece of dough into a thin, long rope (about 28 inches or so) and twist each one into a pretzel. Place the pretzels in the pan with baking soda solution, working with four pretzels at a time. Spoon the water over their tops and leave them in the water for about 2 minutes. 
* Gently remove and place them on the prepared baking sheet. 
* Sprinkle lightly coarse / pretzel salt over the tops, if desired. allow them to rest, uncovered for 10 minutes.
* Bake them for about 8 to 9 minutes or until they are golden brown.
* Remove them from the oven and brush them thoroughly with melted butter, until you use up all the butter.
* Serve them warm or reheat them in the oven or a microwave.

* I used active dry yeast and so initially did the yeast proofing before the dough preparation. If using active dry yeast, add salt, sugar, yeast and water in a bowl. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes, or until it foams. Add flour and prepare the dough as instructed. Allow it to rise it until the dough doubled in volume.
* The final dough should be on the softer side. Use the lesser amount water mentioned in the summer and the greater amount in winter.
* I didn't sprinkle any salt on pretzels as I don't personally prefer it.
* The baking soda "bath" is supposed to give the pretzels a nice golden brown color. I have baked earlier stuff involving 'baking soda bath' and I think why my pretzels are not uniformly browned is because either the quantity of baking soda water prepared
here was not enough or a smaller pan should have been used for the baking soda solution. A smaller pan would allow the pretzels to completely dip in the solution. 
Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking during this blogging marathon.



Priya Suresh said...

Wow, those pretzels looks damn cute Suma, simply loved all ur accompaniments..

Srivalli said...

Wow I am going to make this Suma..I enjoyed your series so much..thanks for the efforts!

Sandhya Ramakrishnan said...

How wonderful they look! I am yet to make pretzels and I am looking forward to making some soon :)

Sapana Behl said...

Wow ! Pretzels looks so buttery delicious .Hats off to your efforts.

Srividhya said...

Great pretzels.. You have got the perfect shape. Loved the intro too.

Sarita said...

Pretzels look yummy..

sneha datar said...

These are looking perfect.

Suja said...

Perfect shapes and looks yummy..

Maha Gadde said...

Super luking bread , nice presentation too

Pavani N said...

Wow those pretzels look so tempting and I'm sure they taste amazing too.

Archana Potdar said...

Amazing pretzels Suma. I love them.

Harini-Jaya R said...

They look so soft and buttery. The soda bath is new to me. Shall try it out sometime.

vaishali sabnani said...

Lovely pretzels. ..saw them making live in Japan..vrty interesting.

Varadas Kitchen said...

They turned out great! The soda bath is always tricky. But the color looks lovely.