How I prepared for it, what I learnt and what I would do differently next time
I had never ever made pretzels at home before, so thought I should give it a try. In fact I have never made them ever, not even when I was working as a baker. And if you have guessed it already, I am going to use a natural levain or a starter.
I needed a recipe to start with, and also I needed to know the procedure, about the shaping and the infamous lye bath! So I found out on IG that @maurizio has shared a recipe that everyone loved. I am so glad I stumbled upon his IG page and his blog “The perfect loaf“, which is very informative. So I spent a good few minutes reading his blog post on making sourdough pretzels. For the original recipe follow this link!
I did a few changes to the recipe, simply because, I didn’t have few of the ingredients in my pantry. Following are the changes;
I used normal bread flour instead of malted bread flour
I used Rye flour in place of all-purpose flour
I didn’t use Diastatic malt powder
I added 2 tablespoons of organic molasses
I used a solution made out of baking soda in place of lye bath
I used sea salt flakes instead of pretzel salt
Dough was retarded in fridge over night
Except for the above alterations, rest of the process is pretty much similar to the original post. Oh and I halved the recipe, and made 8 pretzels each weighing 100 g(prior to baking)
I had to split the process in to two days, due to time constraints. So I made the dough and shaped the pretzels on day 1 and retarded them in fridge over night, so I can bake them fresh in the morning!
I fed my starter in the morning around 6.00 am and by 12.00 noon it has doubled and was fully active and ready to go! I mixed the dough and gave it one fold at one hour mark and let it bulk ferment at room temperature for 4 hours.
Then I divided the dough in to 100 g pieces and molded then in to tiny tubes. I realized, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. So my molding wan’t perfect. So next-time, I really have to nail this step. And I think I didn’t degas them enough, so I got an air bubble here and there. But other than that, it went pretty well.
Then I let them rest and shaped them in to pretzels. Placed them on a tray lined with a silicon mat, wrapped in glad-wrap and in to the fridge they went!
Next day morning! they were pretty firm to the touch. I took them out, unwrapped and let them sit in the fridge until my water bath boils. Also this is the time to preheat your oven to 475 F (mine is a traditional)
So about the lye bath! I didn’t really want to deal with the lye solution for several reasons. One, I don’t want any accidents in my tiny kitchen. Two didn’t want to store it (we have limited space). Three didn’t have a place to buy that(I could have tried online though). Four, I have heard of the baking soda substitute and was rather curious to try it!
So this is how I made my baking soda solution.
Then I simply dipped the pretzels in the above solution, one at a time and placed them on a wire rack to drain excess liquid off. Once done, discarded the baking soda water. Then I transferred the pretzels back on to the lined trays. I placed 4 in each tray.
Next, I slashed the bottom of each pretzel and sprinkled them with sea salt flakes.
They went in to the preheated oven for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes, I rotated the trays(top and bottom) and turned the temperature down to 450 F and gave another 10 minutes. By that time, the pretzels were fully baked and changed their color to a deep brown.
The rest is pretty simple! Let them cool slightly and serve with your favorite dip !
My pretzels were not as soft as I liked them, because of my alterations above. So I need to either find malted flour or malt powder. Or I am thinking of adding all purpose flour instead of Rye and may be to enrich the dough with some milk/milk powder and a pinch of sugar. That is for another day!
Well, I am pretty happy with the color and shape and overall taste. So I will be making several variations in the future and recipes and stories will be shared of course!