Finals · Season 2

A Knotty Final Technical Challenge

And this challenge is PRETZELS.  It’s hard to believe that these Brits are not pretzel eaters.  That *this* is considered a finals technical challenge.  It’s not like it’s a new-world food or even a new invention.  If you Google “Medieval Pretzels” you end up with dozens of images of 15th century people making and selling pretzels.  Admittedly, most of them are Germanic, but still…MEDIEVAL PRETZELS!  I’m going to need to make some for camping next summer.

I love the idea of a portable oven…that would be pretty awesome!

I started looking for recipes for various pretzels, and I usually avoid AllRecipes because many of them include shortcuts like “open a can of Pillsbury bread.”  It’s like comparing Joy of Cooking to Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  No comparison.  This one, however, is a from-scratch recipe, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  I’m glad I did–it was easy to make!

I gathered up the ingredients, soaked the yeast, added in the dry stuff, mixed in the mixer until it got too tough, then kneaded it by hand for a few minutes.  Then put it in a bowl, coated with oil, and set to rise.  Then realized I don’t have enough time to finish…it turned into a crazy day.  The process of making them took longer than I thought (I should have started an hour earlier) and I had to run to pick up kids, then go take the middle kid to her friend’s house…90 miles away.  I’ve put the dough in the fridge in a baggie and will work on it tomorrow morning.  Breakfast pretzels?  Hmmmm…


Well, it’s nearly lunchtime and I’m still waiting for the bread to rise again since it so cold.  Maybe it’ll be teatime snacks.

So I was finally able to get the first batch to rise a bit, but I made a mistake trying to put it in a warm place (over the oven) but got it too warm.  Then it was stiff and hard to work.

Worked into the classic shape, dunked in baking soda brine, and sprinkled with salt before cooking.

Baked at 450 for 8 minutes.

Despite the difficulties, they turned out great!

I enjoyed a couple of them…then thought that since the challenge really included TWO types, I better make another batch.  I wanted to see how the recipe would come out with no overnight chilling in the fridge. I decided not to use the upright mixer for this one and just do it entirely by hand.  It was a tough dough…quite a workout…but they said that it requires a dry dough to make a tight structure, so I expected that.

I let the dough rise for an hour, then dropped it on the counter–it was a beautiful, soft, silky texture.  I measured up 50 grams of vanilla chips (not really white chocolate, but pretty close–white chocolate is expensive, dudes) and about the same amount of cranberries (I didn’t actually weigh them, I just eyeballed it).

I rolled the fruit and chips into the dough and tried to knead it a bit…it wasn’t having it…it didn’t mix in terribly well.  So I just rolled it into a log and sliced it into approximately 90 gram balls.  I then carefully rolled and stretched each one and twisted it into the classic pretzel shape.  I worried that the bits would come out of the dough, but it didn’t–the dough did break a couple times where the dough was thin stretching around a piece of cranberry, but it wasn’t a huge problem.

I brushed them all with egg before putting them into the oven–I lowered the temperature a bit to 400 and baked them for about 15 minutes.

They turned out glossy and delicious!  I tried one with powdered sugar, which was even better, but I bet the best would be a drizzle of icing over the top.  I’ll have to try that…maybe tomorrow.  It’s been another long day being mama-tutor.

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