The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pretzel

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CJRoman's picture

Can you "Pretzel" it?

March 26, 2011 - 6:57pm -- CJRoman
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I'm on a mission to perfect Pretzel Rolls and Buns...and see just what else on earth I can "Pretzel."


I know pretzel dough requires a lot of flour in order to be chewy...but the yield for rolls and buns is very disappointing.


I thought I'd try an Italina Bread recipe, something big and high-rise and just "pretzel" the dough before baking (dunk in baking soda bath). I reasoned that this type of bread expands more and so perhaps I will end up with a bigger more sandwhich-like result, that still tastes like a pretzel.

copyu's picture
copyu

Hi all,


I'm getting tired of repeating myself on "Pretzel-Related" threads where discussion of "Lye" is concerned and I always have to resist the temptation to turn the whole discussion into a Chemistry lecture. I decided a few days ago to do a little "Kitchen Science" and do an incomplete, but slightly more detailed explanation of what alkalis are all about


What I wanted to do was examine some of the claims I've read here, and on many other pretzel-making/baking/soap-making sites. I got tired of reading YahooAnswers, where someone says "If you can't get Sodium Carbonate (Na2CO3), use Sodium BI-Carbonate, because they are very similar chemicals..." This is a true, but totally vapid and rather stupid statement. Common Salt, Sodium Chloride, (NaCL) is also a 'similar chemical' to Sodium BI-Carbonate, (NaHCO3) and similar to Caustic Soda, (NaOH) because they all have only one sodium ion, per molecule, when in solution...It doesn't mean they will perform similar chemical reactions on your bread or noodle dough, however


Understanding pH in detail isn't that straightforward or easy, but as a guide-line, pH7.0 is completely 'neutral' (or in balance) and it's the measurement you should get from pure distilled water. Lower numbers are found with sour, acidic foods, such as lemon juice and vinegar, around pH3-4. Numbers above 7.0 indicate a 'basic' or 'alkaline' property. Any liquid you test will be either acidic, [low pH, well-under pH7.0]; neutral [pH7.0 or pretty close to it]; or alkaline [pH higher than 7.0]


The problems arise when people fail to realize that the pH scale is "logarithmic" [or negative logarithmic] in the same way that dB [deciBels] are in electronics. This is an "engineering solution" to dealing with ridiculously big numbers. What this means is that the difference between one point on the pH scale represents a difference of a power of ten: pH8.0 is about TEN TIMES more alkaline than pH 7.0; a solution of pH9.0 is 100 times more alkaline; pH10 is 1000 times more alkaline, and so on...A tap-water reading in many cities around the world could be as high as pH8.5, which is also the most-often quoted pH figure for Baking Soda. Caustic Soda, or 'Pretzel Lye', on the other hand (one of the strongest known alkalis), is at least 5pH points higher, meaning that it is at least 100,000 times stronger than baking soda. It is this which allows the alkali to attack the surface starch of your pretzel dough quickly and that gives the brown color and the perfect crust that many pretzel fanatics love!


What I did was make solutions using 'Aqua Purificata', the nearest thing you'll find to pure, ion-free, distilled water at a reasonable price. I measured 3g each, using my most accurate scale, of Baking Soda, Kansui Powder (the ingredients of Chinese Lye Water) and Caustic Soda (or 'Pretzel lye') and mixed the powders with 100g of purified water. I mixed each solution for two minutes in brand-new plastic containers, rinsed with the pure water and dried with heavy paper towels. I measured the pH using an $80 pH meter that is fairly well-calibrated. After 3 minutes in each solution, I took photos of the meter readings. I now think I should have delayed the photography until 5 minutes had passed, but the pics I have will give you an idea of the differences among the three main chemicals I tested


http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=different+alkaline&m=tags&w=71323838%40N00&z=m&s=int


I hope this is clear enough and useful to somebody,


Best,


copyu


 


 

devil's picture
devil

this is my first try,it is very easy to bake.I get the recipe from the web.



pretzel recipe is refer to:


http://www.grouprecipes.com/892/pretzel.html

jonqisu's picture

Has anyone tried making pretzel crisps?

May 11, 2009 - 2:20pm -- jonqisu

Has anyone ever made anything like the Pretzel-thins at Trader Joes or the old snack, Mr. Phipp's Pretzel chips? I love dipping them in salsa, but I feel like I should be able to make it at home.


I've tried making them by using a preztel recipe and rolling out the dough, but they still puffed up enough that they weren't crunchy. I've also tried a lavash cracker (a la Reinhart) and then put it in a baking soda solution prior to baking, but the results were less than satisfactory.

Stephmo's picture
Stephmo

I love soft pretzels - who doesn't?  I just never seem to get them outside of fair settings.

And then the other week, Alton Brown did a show on homemade pretzels - it was a sign! So I went to the food network's site and I grabbed the recipe. (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe/index.html)

The Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water

1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (note, I simply used Kosher salt)

ALTON: Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.

So Alton's all into proofing the yeast - and I must say that I only do this because the instructions say so.  At some point I'll stop since I'm really only convinced this is a leftover from poor production methods of old - but look, it bubbles:

ALTON: Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Now it's all about letting the KitchenAid do the work. I add the melted butter and the flour. You may notice Alton's recipe does specify flour by weight. I actually do have a scale where I can zero out my mixing bowl with ingredients, so I'm able to pour 22 ounces of flour exactly. From here, I let the mixer do it's thing for 5 minutes until the dough is nice and ready:

ALTON: Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Rising time. Recipe calls for an hour, but this is fast-acting - in 30 minutes, I'm more than doubled:

ALTON: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

I tear my into 8 pieces and lightly oil my counter so I can roll these into ropes and form them into pretzel shapes. I'll admit that it's not as supple as I'm expecting it to be, but that's okay. While I do this, I have water boiling on the stove and the oven preheating:

Hint from me to you - do put in the baking soda before the water is boiling - if you think you see white crusty stuff on the sides of the pot, you do. I added the baking soda while the water was boiling and got a mini-science experiment. Luckily no spillover, but I laughed. I basically boiled each pretzel for 30 seconds and scooped it out with a wire scoop (this gives the pretzel texture):

At this point, I give the pretzels an egg wash and bake them for 13 minutes. Look what I get:

If you're wondering - but is it a chewy, doughy piece of pretzel goodness? Well - take a look at this crumb:

Yes, this is good stuff - I will be making this again!

 

Ryan Sandler's picture

Adding to water for bagels--a question

February 10, 2009 - 12:35pm -- Ryan Sandler
Forums: 

So, in the last few weeks I've started trying out the pretzel formula from Jeff Hamelman's Bread, with very pleasing results.  One modification I made was to boil the pretzels instead of cold-dipping them, and use 1tbsp baking soda per cup water instead of lye.  The result: a lovely mahogony colored, crispy thin yummy crust. 

zhi.ann's picture
zhi.ann

My second attempt at using yeast!

I discovered one packet of my yeast, labeled as 18g, results in more than 35 ml (about 7 tsp or 2 1/3 Tbsp) of dry yeast. Is it okay that I store what I don't use in an airtight tupperware-type container, in a dark cabinet?

storing yeast

I started preparing for the pretzels at 8:10 pm using floyd's recipe here.

I wasn't sure how to activate my yeast, not sure whether to mix in or let it sit on top of the water, but I think it worked correctly; at first, nothing seemed to happen but after a few minutes a thickish layer of tan foamish stuff was on the top.

activating dry yeast

My brown sugar comes in hard blocks I have to chop up to make like a powder. It wasn't as fine as it could of been if I kept chopping, but after quite awhile, I put it in there. Is it okay that my brown sugar wasn't super-fine?

not too fine brown sugar

I had to add a ton of flour, probably 550 ml (2.5 cups) above the original 240 ml (1 cup).

I also didn't know how to knead until satiny. After just a minute or two, it seemed smoother than before, but as I continued kneading it quickly became rougher, and after 8 minutes of kneading and not being sure what I was looking for, I moved on. Also, despite the added flour, it still stuck to the cutting board a lot.

This may be because of the consistency being off, but I couldn't figure out how to "roll" my dough into logs. I kind of squeezed them into the logs, rolling as much as I could (not much) to make them round, and I came out with very inconsistent sizes with loops that didn't want to stick at all.

pretzel logs

I used the eggwash.

I didn't know whether to grease the baking sheet, and whether the salt was needed (I always scrape the salt off my pretzels cuz I don't like the taste). I salted one, put garlic powder on one, and left the others plain.

pretzels, pre-baking

At this point (I know better now) I thought I should only turn on the bottom, not the top, heating element for baking. After 6 minutes, my pretzels were so HUGE, they didn't really have holes anymore. Oh well.

The tops weren't browning at all (obviously since I didn't have any heat up there) but the bottoms were turning yucky black, so I took them out.

pretzels, post-baking

You know what? They tasted really good. They taste to me like breadsticks, not pretzels, but still yummy. My husband melted some butter with garlic powder mixed in, and it made a great dip. I liked the garlic powder pretzel best, and wonder whether I could brush them with the butter/garlic powder mix rather than the egg, or in addition?

pretzel inside - yum!

Looking forward to trying this again:
-with both heating elements on
-rolling the dough out thinner so the pretzels will look more like pretzels
-potentially brushing with butter/onion powder, based on people here's suggestions
-anything else people suggest for me 

davidlouis333's picture
davidlouis333

Last night after I had made my first batch of pita's for dinner, I decided to make some pretzels since you don't really have to let them ferment. So I got all my stuff ready and went for it. I was very happy with the way my first set of pretzels came out. The recipe was very tastefull, but I will probably try adding a little more sugar next time to give them a sweeter flavor profile. Baking pretzels was a great way for my girlfriend and I to entertain our selves at the end of a stressfull day. Here is a picture of them.

My First Pretzels

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