We’re making pretzels!
There’s a chill in the air, likely some sort of football related programming on the television, and it’s time to get more warm and decadent in our snacking.
Let’s Baking Bootcamp! We’re making sourdough pretzels. They’re special… and surprisingly easy to make! Plus we’ll have sourdough starter in our fridge for future waffles and infinity pretzels. Our future-selves thank us already.
Do you know about the wonders of sourdough?
Sourdough is is a fermented leavening mixture that is replenished after each use, making it an infinite source of leavening and flavor. A sourdough starter kept alive in the refrigerator (I lovingly think of mine like a house plant), can be used to make simple pancakes or waffles, or yeasted breads and loaves. King Arthur’s Sourdough Guide is inspiring! There’s so much delicious we can make.
A few years back I started my own sourdough starter that I think somehow got mixed up with a jar of something rather questionable in my fridge (it happens) and got tossed in the trash.
I now have this lovely Sourdough and Crock Set alive in my refrigerator. It comes in handy for quick weekend breakfasts and irresistible pretzels.
If you’d like to embark on an sourdough adventure, here’s how to create your own sourdough starter.
It’s time! Join me. We’ll pretzel well.
Three recipes shared on Instagram #bakingbootcamp + Three awesome sets of prizes!
The idea is simple!
• Make these Sourdough Everything Pretzels (they’re sooooo good!) and take a picture of your creation!
• Follow @joythebaker and @kingarthurflour on Instagram
• Photograph your beautiful pretzels and post them to Instagram with the hashtag #bakingbootcamp
• When you submit a photo, you’ll be entered to win a 1-year supply of King Arthur Flour and a Baking Essentials box valued at $250!! Official rules and details can be found here.
Let’s get baking!
Here are our ingredients:
- King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- yeast, sugar, salt, King Arthur Baker’s Special Dry Milk (or nonfat milk powder), and melted butter
- Sourdough starter! The best part of these pretzels use a fresh sourdough starter kept fresh and alive in our fridge, for depth of flavor, tang, and intrigue in our pretzels.
- Here are the tools I used from King Arthur Flour!
All of the ingredients find their way into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
In with the all-purpose flour.
Sugar to lightly flavor the dough and feed the yeast.
Yeast for our bread-y rise, in support of our fresh sourdough starter.
The star of the show: King Arthur’s Fresh Sourdough Starter!
It’s a sourdough starter that’s been nurtured in New England since the 1700’s. Good bacteria and happy yeast that are hundreds of years old! It’s like baking with history.
This sourdough starter will add tang and a distinct depth to our pretzels. And since you feed/replenish the starter every time you use it, so we’re baking into infinity. Get excited!
Warm water to bring it all together!
The dough begins to come together with a dough hook.
I stop the mixer just at the beginning of mixing to scrape the flour along the sides of the bowl towards the center to ensure that all of the ingredients are evenly mixed.
The dough will form a cohesive and happy ball that gathers around the dough hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
The dough will be just slightly sticky. We’re working with a soft, tacky, and moist, though not overly wet dough.
I dust the top of the dough with a bit of flour, cover the dough with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm place for just 45 minutes.
The dough may not entirely double in size, but it will happily rise.
The pretzel shaping process begins by dumping the risen dough out of the bowl onto a very lightly floured work surface.
We don’t actually need a lot of flour to form these pretzels. We want just enough flour to lightly knead the dough into a round, then we’ll want the friction of an un-floured surface to roll out and shape the pretzels.
The risen dough is kneaded into a smooth ball. Just about five or six turns will do.
A bench knife (this being my favorite and the best) is used to slice the dough in half.
We’re making our way to 12 even portions of dough. Eyeball the dough as you cut it in half, each half in half again, and each of those pieces into thirds.
For precision, each portion of dough will be approximately 2.5 ounces.
Work one portion of dough at a time into a rope about 16-18 inches long.
I begin by rolling the dough lightly but deliberately between my hands just to stretch it out.
On a clean, mostly un-floured counter I start to roll the dough portion into a rope. I start with my fingers in the center of the dough piece, working the dough back and forth while lightly moving my fingers out toward the edges of the rope.
The slightly sticky dough should adhere to the work surface just enough to give it some traction for stretching.
If the dough is too sticky, add just a touch of flour. Too much flour will make the pretzel ropes hard to roll out at all. We want a little bit of sticky dough traction as we work our fingers from the center of the dough rope, outward.
- Roll dough on a mostly un-floured work surface into a 16-18 inch rope, trying to keep the rope an even thickness throughout.
- Shape the dough into a U, lightly holding the loose top ends of the U.
- Bring the right dough rope over the left. Twist once.
- Bring the U ends down over the twist, attaching the ends to the lower pieces of dough with just a bit of pressure.
- Carefully transfer the pretzel to a greased piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.
- And bonus! No need for a second rise.
Lightly brush the pretzels with a bit of sugar dissolved in water before topping.
Our toppings: Everything Bagel Topping and Pretzel Salt.
Everything Bagel Topping! Salty and savory, everything you want it to be: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion, dried garlic, and a bit of salt.
Sprinkled very generously.
Pretzel Salt: coarse salt that won’t dissolve or disappear during baking. The perfect topping.
Baked golden brown and brushed with loads of melted butter just out of the oven.
Of course they’re best served warm, buttery, bread, tangy, and spicy mustard. They’re utterly irresistible.
- Is there a substitute for the sourdough starter in this recipe? No. Sourdough starter is the way to go. King Arthur has an easy starter kit or you can make your own!
- This recipe calls for King Arthur Baker’s Special Dry Milk. Nonfat dry milk also works well. We want to add a richness to the dough.
- How to put your starter on hold.
For the Pretzels
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 cup unfed sourdough starter, straight from the refrigerator
- 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
For the Topping
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- pretzel salt
- everything bagel topping
- 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine water, sourdough starter, flour, dry milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, and yeast. Mix on low speed until dough comes together and forms a cohesive dough ball around the dough hook, about 8 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky. Add a tablespoon more water if the dough seems dry.
- Dust the dough with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 45 minutes.
- The dough may not double in size, but it will rise.
- Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface, fold it over a few times to gently deflate it, and knead about 5 times.
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces, eye-balling it or weighing each piece to a 2.5 ounce piece.
- Roll each piece of dough into an 18″ rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel using the photographic instructions above.
- Dissolve the sugar in the water. Brush the pretzels and sprinkle generously with everything bagel topping and pretzel salt.
- Bake the pretzels for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown.
- Remove the pretzels from the oven, and generously brush with melted butter, if desired.