At the beginning of this month, I went to Baking Nirvana. The Mothership. The Promised Land.
That’s right. I went to King Arthur Flour in Vermont.
It was an absolutely fabulous experience. I never wanted to leave. I wanted to stay there forever and do nothing but learn how to bake amazingly perfect flour-based confections forever and ever and ever.
Alas, I have a job and real-life responsibilities, but that just means I get to take mini-retreats to go back up to KAF and learn how to bake.
I went with my friend Kelly, who is the amazing bread baker. I’ve mentioned her before in some posts. She swears by KAF even more than I do–which is saying something. She was positively shaking with excitement.
When we pulled up to the building, we could hear the triumphant music. I swear to you, we had gained an achievement. Epic Level baking skills unlocked.
Because the drive was so long for us, we decided to make the trip a baking weekend. We planned to take 2 classes and then drive back home to CT. Man, am I glad we did.
We took a pretzel class in the morning and a danish class in the afternoon.
Today’s post is about the pretzel class. I love pretzels. Soft ones, crunchy ones, sandwich-shaped ones, salty ones, sweet ones, ones with mustard, ones with beer….all of them. I love the flavor and the texture and the color. I love eating them with lunch, as a snack, or while drinking beer.
However, each time I had tried to make them at home, they always, without fail, got stuck to the baking sheet. Whether or not I greased it, or used parchment paper, or wax paper. Then I would have to cut the bottom off of the pretzel, and the crunchy bit would be lost. I would be sad and disappointed and grumpy. Sure, they tasted good, but they weren’t whole.
I tried several different recipes, and the same thing happened each time. Grrr. I hoped with this class that I would be able to sort out what the issue was, and make better pretzels.
SUCCESS WAS MINE!
I would highly suggest, if you have a scale, that you measure your ingredients. It really does make a difference. And boiling the pretzels before baking is key. Other than that, if you think it would taste good on or in the pretzel, it probably will!
King Arthur Flour Pretzels
5 1/4 c (21 ounces) bread flour
1 1/2 c (12 ounces) water
2 tbsp (1 ounce) butter
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 tsp diastatic malt powder (or 1 tsp sugar)
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Mix for 3 minutes on slow sleep, and then turn up to medium speed for 5-6 minutes.
- Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 1-2 hours.
- After the dough has rested, make the soda bath by combining 1 quart of water with 1/2 cup baking soda, and bringing it to a simmer.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into a cylinder about 18 inches long, with the center being thicker than the ends.
- Pick the dough up my the ends and twist it twice. Take the ends and press down on each side, forming the traditional pretzel shape.
- Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
- Simmer the pretzels in the soda water for 10 seconds per side.
- Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with course salt (if desired). With a sharp knife, slice the thickest part of the pretzel.
- Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12-16 minutes, until a deep golden brown color.
- Serve with mustard, beer, butter….your choice.
- If you want sweet pretzels, omit the salt in step 10. When you take the pretzels out, brush them with melted butter, and dip them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
- If you want stuffed pretzels, after you divide the dough, roll it into a rectangle.
Place your filling in one half of the dough. Roll the dough, completely sealing in the filling. Continue with steps 6-11. It doesn’t have to be 18 inches long or thicker in the center.