There are so many mysterious foods out there that are actually pretty easy to make. So it’s my mission to lift the lid on foods that we no longer bother to make at home but they’re really pretty easy.
It’s strange that so many of the popular cooking competition shows are encouraging people to take on fancy foods like sea scallops, duck confit, and other expensive time consuming dishes, but they haven’t got people making yoghurt, cottage cheese, fruit scrolls and pretzels. These foods are easy to make, tasty and really fun to learn how your favourite foods are made.
I love a fresh, soft pretzel. To be honest I love bread and salty foods, so pretzels are right up my alley. But in Australia they’re pretty expensive for what is little more than a tasty bread roll. The day I made 8 fresh, hot, soft salty pretzels for about 3 dollars I saw pretzels at the market for 3 dollars each!
I made pretzels because I was going to an afternoon of board games and beer, and I thought what goes better with beer than pretzels? Possibly nothing, but I have some crazy ideas that are twists on the classic pretzel I will be experimenting with over the next couple of months, so expect to see more pretzels. But for now, I give you the classic pretzel…
makes 8, 30 minutes preparation, 1 hour rising and 15 minutes cooking
Recipe from Alton Brown
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast (7g)
4 ½ cups flour
60g unsalted butter, melted
2.5L water (in a large pot to boil the pretzels)
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Salt, pretzel salt if you have it, I used Maldon sea salt
Mix the sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt into the warm water then sprinkle the yeast to activate it. Leave it for 5 minutes until the yeast gets foamy.
Mix the flour and melted butter into the yeast mixture until it comes together. You will get quite a sticky dough that will need 5 to 10 minutes of kneading on a clean surface until the dough is no longer sticky and it is smooth and elastic. I did this by hand, but if you have a fancy mixer with a dough hook you can use that.
When your dough is smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl covered lightly with plastic wrap for 1 hour in a warm place to rise.
Once the dough has risen, prepare a tray with baking paper, get your egg and water mix ready, the salt to sprinkle on top near by and get the 10 cups of water boiling and slowly add the baking soda (too fast and you’ll make a science class volcano).
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Make them into long snakes and then into a pretzel shape.
Drop the dough into the boiling water one at a time for 30 seconds, then scoop out using a slotted spoon. Arrange the boiled dough on the baking tray, lightly brush with the egg wash and sprinkle some salt on top.
Bake at 220 degrees Celsius (450F) for about 14 minutes until beautifully golden brown. Serve warm with mustard and a cold beer. Hmmm…