Soft pretzels

Ever since I was a child, I have loved pretzels and their variations – pretzel sticks, pretzel buns and pretzel knots. But only the soft, fluffy ones, not the hard and crunchy pretzel snacks.

So I was delighted to come across a recipe online that didn’t just sound good, but it also resulted in a perfect batch of crispy brown pretzel buns full of fluffy crumb that goes perfectly smothered with mashed avocado or topped with a slice of vegan cheese and grilled in the oven.

I found the recipe on the Veggie Inspired blog written by Jenn and tweaked it a little to satisfy both, my craving for childhood memory pretzels and my love for Philly soft pretzels that were slightly softer and sweeter than their German counterparts.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of dry active yeast
  • 4.5 cups of strong bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine
  • 2/3 cup of bicarb soda
  • rock salt

Method

  • Mix the water, sugar, salt and yeast in a jug and let it stand for a few minutes.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour and margarine, then add the yeast mixture and knead for several minutes until the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the sides.
  • Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot for about an hour. It should double in size by that time.
  • Dust your kitchen bench with a little flour and tip the dough out onto the surface. With a dough scraper, cut it into about 8-10 equal portions. The dough scraper helps with easy cutting and with getting sticky dough off the surface – if you don’t have one, buy one, I highly recommend it.
  • Next, shape each piece of dough into a longish rope. I first roll them into taught balls on the bench, then roll them into a log between my two hands and work to stretch them longer and longer until they are about 7″ (18cm) long (about the length of my forearm from inside the elbow to my wrist).
  • Then I shape a pretzel but it will be small and fat and basically turn into a knot. I push the ends of the log against the middle part so the knot doesn’t come apart. When they bake, the knots end up creating a nice shape but essentially result in a nice fat bun with lots of fluffy crumb in the middle.
  • Now place all those pretzel knots on a tray lined with baking paper or a silicon mat and let them rise for another 20min.
  • Pre-heat your oven to about 230ºC (450F) fan-forced.
  • In a pot bring about 6 cups of water and the bicarb soda to a rolling boil.
  • Carefully place one knot at a time onto a slotted spoon, lower into the water and leave it in there for 15-20 seconds before removing (try to drain as much liquid off the spoon as possible) and putting the knot back on the baking tray.
  • Sprinkle with rock salt while the knots are still moist on the surface. Once all the knots have been dipped in the lye water, bake them for about 13-15 minutes, depending on how brown you like them.
  • Let them cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes if you can wait that long.

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