Friday, 18 May 2012

Is Yoga Big in Germany?

Soft Pretzels

As much as I love the traditional Pretzel-shaped Pretzels, I had a serious craving to straight German Pretzels. Sadly, I didn't read the recipe title, and so made soft pretzels instead. They were delicious anyway! But back to the main point- would Germans be offended by straight Pretzels? Or happy that someone made a practical shape? I'm sure this is related to how much they love Yoga.. 

Two things led to these pretzels: Alton Brown and the awesome guy that works with Ralph and looks like a beaver. I'm going to start with Ralph's colleague. After a couple of drinks he can be convinced to imitate a beaver. This is all we look for in a friend. On Saturdays our beaver man makes really delicious burgers at the Neighbor Goods Market. This market is... The best way to describe it would be like a land at the top of The Faraway Tree, a land that has intoxicatingly delicious food, but not just any food.. Food made with the right ingredients, fresh ingredients, made with love and, just as importantly: skill. The currywurst we had was spectacular, as was the pretzel that came with it, and the lemon meringue cupcake made ALL my nerve endings tingle with sour. I'm determined to recreate all of these dishes!!

As for Alton Brown - I have a new useless passion in life- Iron Chef. I've watched so much of it lately that I feel like Alton Brown and Michael Symon actually live with me.. Except for the absolutely mindblowing food that would exist if they did..

So naturally I found a recipe that Alton Brown had posted for pretzels, and wasted no time in making them! I love this trick of boiling the pretzels in bicarb to give them that gorgeous brown colour! Next on my list will definitely be pretzel dogs by Joy The Baker.

Soft Pretzels
from Alton Brown

1 1/2 cups warm water (midway between lukewarm and hot)
1 tblsp sugar
2 tsp salt
7 g packet dry yeast
624 g cake flour
57 g butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cup bicarbonate of soda
1 extra-large egg yolk beaten with 1 tblsp water
Course salt

1) Add sugar, salt and yeast to warm water in a large bowl, and allow to stand for about 5 minutes- until it begins foaming.
2) Add flour and butter to the mixture, and knead with dough hook attachments on a mixer. Keep kneading until the dough becomes smooth and stops sticking to the sides of the pan. This should take less than 5 minutes.
3) Take the dough out of the bowl, wash it, and coat it with oil. Put the dough back, cover with clingwrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for just less than an hour, until it doubles in size.
4) Preheat oven to 230 C, and either just grease two large cookie sheets, or layer them with silicone mats. DO NOT use wax paper- the pretzels will soak them and stick to them!
5) Take a medium sized pot, and add the water and bicarb. Bring to the boil.
6) Now, cut the dough up into about 16 equal pieces, each rolled out to make a 10- 15 cm rope.
7) Boil each rope in the water, by itself, for 30 seconds. Taking them out is a bit tricky, but you get the hang of it. I used the biggest spatula I could find.
8) Spread egg yolk mixture on boiled pretzels, and sprinkle with course salt.
9) Bake until they turn that gorgeous pretzel dark brown.

Because of my addiction to pickles, these pretzels were enjoyed in our home with Israeli cucumbers in brine. My absolute favourite. You might want to enjoy them with something more German?

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