Jjiro may dream of sushi but Rock dreams of soft pretzels. (If you haven’t seen the documentary ‘Jiro dreams of sushi’ yet, you must!) Ever since we went to the ‘German’ Christmas Market in Vancouver during the holidays, Rock’s been wanting to make some German pretzels. A pretty intimidating task but he’s been stoked about it for a while now so we decided to give it a try.
Makes 1 dozen
4 cups all purpose flour / 16 grams active dry yeast / 2 tsp salt / 1 tsp sugar / 1 cup lukewarm water / 3 tbsp softened butter / coarse salt / 1/2 cup baking soda
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Make a little well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the sugar and then the yeast mixture. Don’t mix yet and let it just sit for about 15 minutes. Add the butter and then knead the dough until it’s smooth. I think it depends on the climate you’re in but Moose Jaw in winter is dry as f*** so we ended up having to add about ~1/4 cup of water to the dough. If you’re somewhere more humid (like beautiful Vancouver!) you probably don’t need as much water so just add as you go. Also, all recipes call for a stand mixer with a dough hook but we don’t have one…yet. Rock dreams of pretzels and I dream of a KitchenAid mixer. While we took turns huffily kneading this dough by hand, we both agreed that owning a KitchenAid mixer is on our horizon. Anyway, if you are fortunate enough to have a stand mixer, use that please.
Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and roll out each piece on an un-floured surface to a rope of dough that’s at least 20 inches long. We had to add a bit of water to the dough again while we were rolling it out, but again, I think it depends on the climate. After you’ve rolled out the dough, twist into the pretzel shape and place onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Make sure you press the ends down a little bit into the dough after twisting so the whole thing doesn’t fall apart. (Working with this dough was probably the most challenging experience I’ve ever had in the kitchen by the way. Rock harsh cheated and used a rolling pin to help him out because we found the dough rather uncooperative. At this point in the game, I was pretty sure our pretzels would not turn out. But they did! Don’t give up!) After all the pretzels have been formed, place them uncovered in the fridge for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Put a pot (we used a 5 quarts) filled 3/4 with water over medium-high heat and right before it comes to a boil, add the baking soda. (It will bubble and fizz!) Using slotted spatulas, put the pretzels into the boiling soda water, one at a time, for 5 seconds on each side. Place back on the baking sheets and sprinkle coarse salt over the tops. Bake for about 16-18 minutes or until nicely browned.
Rock thinks they turned out amazing and taste really good. He is super happy! After a lot of effort, I’m honestly very relieved and glad they came out so well. When I was in Munich, I couldn’t stop eating these amazing giant pretzels sliced length-wise with chive butter (i.e. schnittlauchbutterbreze) sandwiched in them so I just snipped up some fresh chives into softened butter and gave it a mix to go along with our pretzels. Overall, success!