I’ve noticed lately that most of our grocery stores are now carrying a variety of extraordinary breads, from focaccia made from an authentic Italian recipe that uses an enormous volume of olive oil to various egg, grain and nut breads; recently I’ve also noticed something I hadn’t seen before, a very beautiful Pretzel Bread! Now pretzel bread has a chewy texture and a salty finish on its chewy crust. It’s a lovely dense bread (if you love egg bread than you will love pretzel bread) that works well as hamburger buns and sandwiches! We’re going to use it for a cheese fondu! I’ve also seen this type of boule used as a soup bowl…perhaps another time!
I scanned the internet for a recipe and came across one from Fleischmann’s yeast that I rather liked, so I made it the first time verbatim and then the second time I made a few adjustments because I wasn’t entirely happy with the first result. There just wasn’t enough liquid to soak up the flour they claimed to need no matter how much I kneaded! My first dough was a little stiff. With some minor adjustments I present to you the slightly modified recipe but please pop on over to the original recipe here.
Originally, pretzel bread is boiled in a water and Food Grade Lye solution, but that just seemed a little too dangerous for my taste so I opted to use baking soda instead. Many recipes range for a few tablespoons to 3/4 cup of baking soda which is the most I’ve seen on-line. I’ve even seen some recipes bake the baking soda, but that seemed like too much work! The baking soda or lye creates Maillard reaction which causes the proteins and the sugars react in a certain way that allows the bread to brown at high temperatures much more easily than by just baking; boiling it first gives this bread its signature chewy crust. This bread turned a most beautiful reddish brown colour that normal baking would not have resulted! I was very pleased indeed! The dough comes together very easily and doesn’t take an exorbitant amount of time. Proofing is just 1 hour! Baking is even less! The results are worth the effort. I must warn you though, it’s a good workout if you don’t have a stand mixer, the recipe says to knead for 8-10 minutes and they are not kidding!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Proofing Time: 60 minutes
Boiling Time: per loaf, 2 minutes
Baking Time: 25 to 27 minutes
Original recipe from Fleischmann’s yeast
Makes: 2 (18 cm or 7-inch) loaves or 8 rolls (I will make the rolls for soup bowls another time)
Ingredients for Dough:
- 1 1/2 to 3/4 cups milk (I increased the milk because the original dough was too tough and not soft as indicated in the instructions, but it will change depending on how humid the day is)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tbsp bread machine yeast (I prefer to use this because it dissolves faster)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I found 3 cups in the winter months was enough to produce a soft, sticky dough)
Ingredients for the Boiling Solution:
- 2.8 L or 3 quarts water
- 3/4 cup baking soda
Ingredients for the Egg Wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- Warm the milk and butter to 37.7°C – 43°C (100°F-110°F); the butter will not completely melt.
- In the large mixing bowl of your stand mixer, combine the warm milk with room temperature yeast and brown sugar. Stir in the salt and 2 cups flour and beat for 3 minutes (I used my cookie dough blade on my stand mixer, the first time I tried the whisk attachment and it was too sticky).
- Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough (I added 1 additional cup, 3 cups in total).
- Knead for 8-10 minutes in your stand mixer using the dough hook until smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 204°C (400°F)
- Combine boiling solution and bring to a boil.
- Punch the dough down and divide into 2 equal portions.
- Form each portion into a tight, smooth ball (this will be the shape of your final bread, so if you want more of an oval roll, shape accordingly).
- Boil each portion in the solution for a total of 2 minutes; start with the top side down and then flipping it over after 1 minute, top side up.
- Remove the dough portions from the pot using a slotted spoon and place on a greased baking sheet (I lined my sheet with parchment). Allow to dry off for a bit (a minute or so).
- Brush with the egg wash and cut a cross in the top, make sure you insert blade about 2 mm (1/8″) into the dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 204°C (400°F), then reduce the temperature to 177°C (350°F) and bake an additional 8-10 minutes until the loaves are evenly browned, you want a nice dark reddish-brown colour and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
I posted this in January’s Growing Edge group post. Please check it out here.