Thursday, 24 July 2008

Bread Baking Day #12: Small Breads

Bread Baking Day is an event started by Zorra at 1x umrühren bitte, dedicated to getting bread makers together every month to expand their bread baking repertoire and experiment with new breads together. This month's theme is small breads and is hosted by Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen. Visit her site to find breads and vegetarian dishes to delight the senses.

Aparna was kind enough to provide a list of ideas for small breads and I immediately jumped on the pretzels. I have always wanted to make them but needed a gentle shove.

I had a recipe from Alford and Duguid's Home Baking and just adjusted the directions a bit.
Baker’s Sign Pretzels
Makes 8
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp wheat malt syrup or barley malt syrup
2 ½ - 3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
Shaping and baking
1/3 cup baking soda
1 ½ cups water
2 egg yolks, beaten with 4 tsp milk, for egg wash

Place the milk in a medium bowl and stir in the yeast to dissolve it well. Add the malt syrup and 1 cup of the flour and stir until you have a smooth batter. Sprinkle on the salt, add the butter, and stir well to incorporate. Add 1 ¼ cups more flour and stir and turn the dough to incorporate it. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, incorporating more flour as necessary.

Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with plastic and let rise 1 ½ hours until double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

Turn dough out to lightly floured surface and cut into 4 pieces, cut each piece in half.

Working with 2 pieces at a time, roll them out like long, skinny snakes. About 24 to 30 inches and tapered at the ends. Twist into pretzel shape and place on baking sheet. Repeat with the rest and when you are done let them rise 10 minutes.

Heat water in med/large saucepan until almost boiling. Add baking soda and stir well to dissolve. Reduce to constant simmer.

With large heatproof spatula, pick up first pretzel and dip into simmering water, keeping it on the spatula, for 20 seconds.

Let drain, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with a little salt, sesame seeds or poppy seeds if you wish. Place back on baking sheet and repeat with the rest.

Bake pretzels for 10-12 minutes in upper third of oven until deep golden brown. Cool on rack and serve warm or room temperature.

The pretzels were wonderful and very forgiving as I shoved them here and there while I was getting the flow worked out. The only thing is - do not put on anywhere near the salt that I used. I had to scrape most of it off. And I am a salt fiend. A little goes a long way. Otherwise, we loved them. (They were particularly good dipped in the smoked salmon spread) I can't wait to make them again.

Click here for part #1 of the round-up!