I am so jazzed! This pretzel bread has been on my mind for some time. I didn’t know how it would turn out, but it sure turned out a super winner! It was so much fun to make! It tastes so terrific! I baked this bread up on the very last day of 2007 and it was a perfect ending to a great sourdough year! Here is how it started:
I made up a thick preferment using the Austrian Sourdough Starter in a motherdough form. The dough fermented overnight and the next day I added the rest of the ingredients and let it ferment four more hours. Then it looked like this:
I divided into four pieces weighing 1.5 lbs each. I experimented with how to shape the bread to give some idea of it being pretzel bread but nothing worked out to my satisfaction.
So I just shaped it like a regular french bread shape. I put all four loaves into the couche as I was planning on baking them all at the same time.
I let the dough proof about two hours and it looked ready to go:
I was now ready to do the pretzel thing! I had hubby make me two metal handles that I attached to a grate from my toaster oven:
This little gizmo was going to be used for dipping the dough in a hot bath of soda/salt water. I had about 2 gallons of simmering water in a large roasting pan on top of the oven, I added baking soda and salt to the water which will give the classic pretzel taste and is safer/cheaper to use than the baking lye. There is quite a lot of soda in there at 1 Tablespoon per cup. The water foamed up as soon as the soda hit the water:
I then placed the dough on the grate and lowered it into the hot soda bath. The dough floated and I had it in there about 15 seconds per side. The grate was under the dough and I pulled it up to take out the dough as gently as possible. You can’t see me do that as I needed both hands and couldn’t take a picture of it. Here is the dough floating in the hot water:
After I removed the dough from the soda bath, I placed it on a greased baking sheet, spread egg mixture and sprinkled flaked salt over the top and sliced in some x’s :
I repeated the bath for the other dough and had two baking sheets with two loaves on each sheet. I popped the first sheet into the oven as soon as it was filled and then worked on the second sheet. Soon they were both in the oven at 400 degrees:
The first sheet came out five minutes earlier than the second sheet and here were the first two loaves:
Here are some pictures of this terrific, unique sourdough bread:
Here is a view inside:
This bread went way past expectation. The crust was thin, crisp and dark brownish red (looked just like a soft pretzel) The top was crusted with flaked salt. The inside was soft yet chewy. It got shocked raves immediately. You could tell that the bread would be great with swiss cheese, strong mustard and some pastrami. I only had one loaf left this morning and had stored it in a brown bag overnight as the salt on the crust will leach out moisture from the crust if kept in a plastic bag. It was SUPER as toast this morning with butter and cream cheese. I consider this one of the most wonderfully unique breads I have ever tasted. You can look forward to seeing the recipe in my upcoming book. See Northwest Sourdough forum http://teresal.proboards84.com/index.cgi for a soon to be announced contest for naming my new sourdough book.
Have a great year everyone!