Like many more, I’ve been dabbling in sourdough the last few weeks. My feelings are very mixed with regards to making my own sourdough bread, as the effort versus benefit ratio is open to debate.
Without a doubt, sourdough is wonderful bread when you get a good one. And working with a live starter is very addictive, but I found the discarding virtually impossible (which to be fair is really only necessary when developing a starter initially). So I used the discard in a few different recipes with interesting results. Pizza dough, naan, bagels and pretzels were the most successful.
By the end of week two, when I had started to neglect the starter and just wanted to use it up in the last loaf of bread, it turned out great. I have happily put a portion of starter to live in the fridge for my next foray, but in order to prevent bread taking over my life its appearance will be short and sweet on occasion.
There are lots of detailed instructions online on developing your own starter, mine was a simple one using 114gr flour and 114g water daily. Nothing complicated, and it worked great, probably the nice weather and warm days helped. So if you haven’t done it before and you have a bit of time, I definitely recommend giving it a go, and then try these pretzels.
It’s really fun to make pretzels at home; the rolling and shaping are great fun for the kids, as well as the sprinkling with seeds.
The boiling is certainly something different and a whole new experience, and the bread soda bath is part of the distinctive taste of pretzels.
125ml milk at room temperature
170g sourdough starter disgard .
1 tsp bread soda
6 tablespoons mixed seeds (sesame, poppy, pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, chia — any mix of these)
A pinch of onion seed
- Put the milk in the bowl of an electric mixer with butter, sugar, and sourdough starter.
- Add the flour and mix well until the dough forms a soft ball.
- Knead in the mixer for 3 to 4 minutes. It will form into a ball, carefully lift out and place in a lightly oiled bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest/rise for 2 to 3 hours, or as long as it takes to double in size.
- Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured counter.
- Knead lightly then cut into 6 even pieces.
- Roll out each piece into a long strip 26-30” in length.
- Once the dough strips have been rolled out, shape them into a pretzel and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It’s easiest to put three on each sheet.
- Place the cookie sheets in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. (Optional — depending on if you feel your dough is manageable).
- The goal is to allow the pretzels to harden just enough that they can be dunked in the water bath.
- With the pretzels in the freezer, pre-heat the oven to 225C.
- Use a large pot and fill to about 4 inches deep with water, bring to a strong simmer.
- Add 1 tbsp baking soda, allow to dissolve.
- Remove the pretzels from the freezer; add them to the water (three at a time), and allow to simmer until they float to the top.
- Gently remove from their bath and place back on the cookie sheet. I used a potato masher to slip under them.
- Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with your seed mix.
- Bake at 225C for 14-15 minutes till lightly brown.
- They will be hard when tapped (but will soften as they cool). Enjoy warm — it’s hard to wait any longer.