Not a wild recipe! I have added this on as this is something I am known for. In 2020 - 21 we used pretzels to fund raise almost £2000 for a number of worthy charities so that kind of makes them a perfect thing. Also full disclaimer - these are the perfect pretzels right now. I have modified and played with this recipe for around five years now and I think I will continue to play with this as time goes on and fantasise about just the right crust to crumb texture. In the past I've added different fats, baked or not baked the bicarb, added tangzhong (good but not worth the faff) different flours. At the end of the day perfection is in the mouth of the beholder but these pretzels are pretty special.
I highly recommend refrigerating your dough overnight for better flavour if you can bear to wait (they could even do 48 hours in the fridge) and they're much easier to shape when the dough is cold.
Don't be scared of shaping - they will be so tasty no matter what shape they are. This guide is really helpful!
Malt syrup is definitely not essential but really recommended for that extra flavour. You can find this online or at a health food shop.
This looks like a lot of stages - and it is - but it is so satisfying and worth it.
If you want to make these vegan. Just swap the butter for oil and leave out the egg wash - they're just as delicious!
The extra pinch of bicarb in the dough is for colour - you will not taste it in there but makes a big difference to that final glossy and bronzed appearance.
This dough will shape into lots of other things and work well as tasty if not authentic bagels or if you're feeling ambitious a pretzel loaf is a lovely thing!
Toppings are totally up to you too - all seeds are welcome, cheese or chilli.
They also freeze really well after baking. I reheat these in a medium heat oven for ten minutes and serve warm. With a beer on the side. And maybe some pimento cheese..
You will need the following
A large bowl for mixing
A wide cooking pot with lid
3 large trays with non stick parchment and oiled
800g strong flour
3g Bicarbonate of Soda
30g Brown Sugar
15g Malt Syrup
10g Dried Yeast
450g Warm Water
50g Butter - melted
50g Neutral oil plus extra for greasing
40g Bicarbonate of soda for poaching
1 egg beaten
Flaky sea salt for topping
Mix together the flour, salt and 3g of bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl or mixer. In a separate bowl or jug add the water, yeast, sugar and malt syrup and mix to dissolve and bloom the yeast for a few minutes. Add the melted butter and oil to the flour mix and pour over the water mixture. Mix loosely together until the dough is in a single mass and turn out on to your counter. If your dough is very sticky then cover and leave the flour to hydrate for 5 minutes. If it still feels sticky add a tablespoon of additional flour but don't be tempted to add loads. Knead for 10 - 12 minutes until elastic, soft and homogenous. Alternatively you can mix this in a mixer for 5 minutes on medium speed until it reaches a similar texture.
Place the dough into a freshly oiled bowl, drizzle a coating of oil over the top and cover with a plate or something else to keep the air out. Place into the fridge overnight or if making in a rush leave at room temperature to double in size - this will take about 90 minutes.
Next - the shaping. The guide in the tips I've recommended above is really useful. I also find the easiest way to help with a perfect knot is to pre-shape each piece. Turn out the dough and flatten a little into a large rectangle. Use a knife to cut into 12 pieces size without working it too much so you can make the most of that relaxed state. I weigh each one but this is not necessary! A guess is totally fine. Knock the air out of each piece by flattening a little and roll into a sausage to help with the next stage. Repeat with each piece.
By the time you have rolled the last piece the first piece should be ready to shape. Resist the urge to add flour to the counter but if it is very sticky a very fine dusting is OK. You want to be able to stretch this as you roll and the flour can make this harder to do. Roll and stretch the sausage with your hands until it is ideally about 1.5cm in width, about 80cm long with a thicker middle and tapering at the end. Twist into that classic knot making an effort to pinch the tapered ends to the main body of the shape. Leave to rest again on a dusting of flour to stop it sticking. Roll out the remaining bundles of dough and leave all to rest for 20 minutes or so. At this stage turn your oven on to full wack.
Add 3 litres of water to a large and wide pot and put it on to boil while you wait for the pretzels to rise. You will know the dough is ready when you poke it and it doesn't bounce back very quickly. Once your water has come up to boil add the bicarbonate of soda. Your water should be at a simmer for the next stage. Gently pick up your first pretzel and add to the water. Poach for about 90 seconds in total turning over at the half way stage. If you have enough space in your pot you can add 2 or 3 at a time. Turn back over before removing from the water so they are right side up. Lift out with a couple of slotted spoons and allow to drain the excess water before placing on your prepared tray. Wash generously with the egg and sprinkle over the salt. I sometimes double egg for extra glossiness! Bake for 20 minutes until gloriously golden. Eat immediately!