Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Special Kneads: Pennsylvania Pretzels!

I'm taken it upon myself to compile a workplace cookbook. We've gotten over 100 recipes so far! One coworker brought me his family cookbook, with four of his favorites marked, and told me to "take whatever else you want". So I paged through, and the recipes were amazing. Not fancy, and so much fun. I copied four of my faves, and I'll be recipe testing them in current weeks. When I saw "Pennsylvania Pretzels", I could not resist, as they combine my home state, my love of bread, and my interest in boiling then baking dough. The recipe is originally from Francis Reynolds (my changes in parenthesis).

1 cup warm water (I needed another .25 cups)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dissolve yeast in one cup water (and wait for 10 min. until frothy).
Gradually add flour to make a stiff dough (add rest of water if needed).
Knead 5 minutes (with dough hook on Kitchen-aid mixer).
Make dough into a ball and put into a (greased) bowl.
Cover and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.
When dough has doubled, punch down and let rise again.
While waiting, fill a large pot half full of water.
Add the baking soda and bring to a simmer.
Roll dough into a 6 inch square. With a knife, cut strips the size of a finger.
Twist each strip into a pretzel shape and pinch ends together.
Slip pretzels one at a time into simmering water. They will sink, then rise.
Take out (after no more than 15 seconds) with a spatula.
Place pretzels on greased cookie sheet.
Beat an egg with a fork. Brush each pretzel with egg.
Sprinkle with salt.
Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
They will be soft.
Eat warm, with mustard.

My only change to the recipe would be to let the pretzels "rest" in their twisted form and maybe rise a bit more before boiling. The great thing about them is that when they come out they are a great soft pretzel, and when they've cooled, a wonderful hard pretzel (kind of like these) . I also had a vague idea that this boiling, being the same technique as bagels, should be attempted for just that. So I saved some of the dough, and went for it. The result:

My first bagel! And not a bad one, though I will be investigating further for a more specific dough recipe (and buying some sesame seeds for the top!). Thank you, Francis Reynolds, for the inspiration!

No comments: