Everytime I see something interesting on a food blog, I bookmark it for future use. This list is growing longer and longer by the day, so I decided that it was time to tick items off the list. These mini pretzels on Smitten Kitchen made me go ‘awwww’ when I saw them, and I knew at that moment that I would be making them one day.
I grew up eating pretzels from Auntie Anne’s, my favourite being the sour cream flavoured one. Which is why I decided to try out a few different pretzel flavours, despite the fact that the recipe was for plain flavoured ones. No harm in experimenting, no? 😛
I finally settled on 3 flavours – plain (topped with poppy seeds), garlic and herb, and cinnamon. Out of these, I felt that the cinnamon one turned out best, flavour wise. I actually put the toppings on the pretzels before baking them, and although they turned out alright, I think that they would taste better if the toppings are put on after the pretzels come out of the oven (with the exception of the poppy seeds of course). Thinking back, I believe this is how pretzels are prepared at Auntie Anne’s, and I’ll be doing this next time.
Another thing to note is to not be lazy and use garlic powder to flavour the pretzels like I did, as the garlic powder takes on a slightly burnt taste after being baked. Will definitely take the extra effort to make some garlic butter in the future, and I’ve used garlic butter in the recipe below instead of my garlic powder/herb mixture.
The recipe appears to be very complicated, but is easier than it seems when you actually get down to making it. In my opinion, the end product is definitely worth it!
- 2 cups warm water (~40°C)
- 1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 5 to 6 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons corn oil, or other neutral oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg
- coarse sea salt
- poppy seeds/sesame seeds
- demerara sugar
- garlic butter
1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let it sit for 10 minutes. (The yeast will become foamy, this is how you know it’s still ‘alive’.)
2. Add 5 cups of flour and salt to the yeast mixture, and mix on low speed (still using the dough hook) until it forms a nice dough (usually takes about 10 minutes). If you find that the dough looks wet and too sticky, slowly add in more flour until the dough doesn’t stick to the mixing bowl – I had to use at least 1/2 cups extra flour.
3. Pour oil into a large bowl; use a some kitchen roll to oil the bowl. (You can also try swirling the oil around to coat the entire bowl). Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with clingfilm or a tea towel, and leave to rise until doubled in size.
4. Heat oven to 200°C (220°C if you don’t use a fan oven). Line two baking trays with baking paper or parchment paper. Set aside.
5. Once dough has doubled in size, punch dough down (gently). Divide into portions of 75g each (this gave me about 12 large pretzels from the dough), and let this rest f0r 5 minutes to allow the gluten to relax – this makes it easier to roll out and shape the pretzels.
6. Roll each piece of dough into a ~15 inch long strip. Twist this into the shape of a pretzel, and transfer to the baking sheet. (I found that the dough was very springy, and tended to shorten after being rolled out – leaving it to rest for a minute or so after being rolled out made it much easier to work with.)
7. Once all the pretzels are formed, leave to rise for 10-15 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 2 inches of water, and bring it to the boil. Add baking soda and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer.
9. Transfer pretzels to the water – how many you do at one go depends on the size of your pot, I did 2 at a time. Poach 1 minute on each side, and remove with a slotted spoon. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
10. Beat egg and brush pretzels with egg glaze. (don’t use the egg glaze for garlic pretzels)
11. For plain pretzels, sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt and poppy seeds/sesame seeds. For cinnamon pretzels, sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and demerara sugar (I like demerara as it gives the pretzels a nice ‘crunch’). And for garlic pretzels, brush garlic butter on the pretzels.
12. Bake pretzels until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack. I found that these tasted best warm, on the same day – but they did keep for 2-3 days. I kept them verrry lightly covered with clingfilm as I could not leave them uncovered with the amount of dust we get in London (covering them makes them soggy you see), and the pretzels didn’t become very soggy (thankfully!).