Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July Daring Bakers Challenge-- Pretzels

Today is the reveal day for the July Daring Bakers Challenge. I did not partake in this months challenge with the actual assigned recipe of “Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream” hosted by Chris of Mele Cotte for a couple of reasons.

The first being that I can not stand hazelnuts and the second being that I can’t stand buttercream! I did think about making the cake with a different nut, however, the only other nut that I could think of that I would enjoy would be almond. Unfortunately, just two months ago the Daring Bakers did the Opera Cake, and I didn’t want another layered cake with an almond/buttercream/ganache/sugar syrup combo to be tagged onto my backside!

If you'd like to see completed July challenges by other Daring Bakers, be sure to check out the blogroll.

So instead, I decided to bow out of this month (Daring Bakers are allowed 2 months of non-participation per year) and went into the archives of previous Daring Baker Challenges and decided to make Pretzels. Pretzels was the very first challenge way back when the Daring Bakers were born (as just twins).

I found this recipe extremely easy; had I known it was this easy to make pretzels, I would have made them years ago! They tasted okay-- I was surprised that they were a crunchy pretzel rather than a soft and chewy pretzel (or maybe they weren’t supposed to be crunchy and I did something wrong-- which is a likely possibility).

I found that they tasted more like a breadstick than a pretzel. But that didn’t stop me from drowning mine in Dijon mustard and eating two in one sitting. (Someone had to take one for the team!)

Here is the recipe. I’m not sure if I’ll make these again with this exact recipe; I may seek out a soft pretzel recipe for the next time. Feel free to point me in the direction of a great recipe if you have one!

For the dough:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
1 cup warm water (you may need a little more)

For the pretzel topping:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
kosher salt
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Work the ingredients together until you can form a ball. If the dough is very dry, add a bit more warm water until it comes together. The dough will look messy, but don’t worry about it.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading by pushing the dough away with the heel of your hand, and then folding it back in onto itself. Push the dough away again and then fold back in. Continue this motion, working the dough until it’s smooth. This should take anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can knead the dough in a mixer with your dough hook for 5 to 6 minutes).

Once the dough is done, sprinkle some flour on the dough and put it in a large, oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes to an hour. It will rise considerably.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and set aside.

Divide your dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a long rope that’s roughly 24 inches in length. (Don’t make it too long or your pretzels will be too thin.)

Taking hold of the ends of the rope, cross the rope over itself to form a circle with about 4 to 5 inches on each end that are sticking out. Twist the ends over themselves and secure each end on either side of the pretzel.

Carefully dip the pretzel in the water and then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.

Sprinkle the pretzels with the kosher salt and let them rest for about 15 minutes.

Put the pretzels in the oven for 6 minutes, then rotate the trays and bake for an additional 6 minutes. Keep an eye on the pretzels so that they don’t burn.

Remove the pretzels from the oven and immediately brush them with the butter. Keep brushing them with butter until you’ve used it all.

Serve the pretzels warm with plenty of mustard or another condiment of your choice.


Megan said...

I didn't get to participate this month either. But at least you still made a challenge. That should count!
The prezels look great. These challenges have come along way since the pretzel.

Courtney said...

Your pretzels look wonderful, you did good. Wow I could not live without Nutella, I am a hazelnut freak but if I didnt like them, i would totally skip out also!

Jennywenny said...

Mmm, they look good. I found mine to be quite chewy so maybe they were a bit smaller than mine?

Lorrie said...

Sorry you skipped out, hopefully august will be your month! Those pretzels look delicious.