A pretzel a day

Classy Cooking with Cassie

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Cassie Duncanson/PSU Vanguard

Sometimes self-care means putting on The Great British Bake-Off, baking up a batch of pretzels from scratch, and also working on the weekly recipe because you really don’t want to stress your editor out any more than feasible by turning in your article late, and hey, self-care is also remembering you get paid for these recipes, and self-care is also feeding the bank account.

Editor’s note: Self-care is also baking these recipes for yourself and praising all the gods for your delicious good fortune.

If you already know how to bake bread and are looking to take your skills to the next level, Jeffery Hamelman’s book Bread is the way to go. Now, I don’t happen to keep caustic lye or diastatic malt powder on hand, so this recipe is a home-baker’s adaptation of his.

This process takes at least a whole afternoon and up to a full 24 hours (and also a lot of fridge space).

Materials:
—Scale
—Bench knife
—Bowl
—Food-safe thermometer
—Sheet tray
—Parchment paper

Ingredients:
—1 lb. 6 oz. Bread Flour + more for dusting the counter
—12 oz. Warm water
—0.4 oz. Salt (2 tsp.)
—1 ½ tsp. Instant yeast
—2 tbsp. + ½ tsp. soft butter
—Honey*
—Kosher salt for sprinkling
—1 egg
—Baking soda

*You can also do this with sugar, but I prefer the taste of honey in my breads.

In a mixing bowl combine yeast and warm water.
Drizzle honey in for a slow three count.
Let sit for about 5 minutes. The timing depends on the temperature of your kitchen. Hotter = faster. This activates the yeast, which will begin bubbling and growing. Proceed to the next step once the yeast seems to have stopped rapidly growing. (But because this dough has such a long rest time, even if you’re too impatient and add the flour in immediately the pretzels will still turn out fine.)

Add in flour, butter, and salt and knead 5–10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. Internal temperature should be about 75 degrees. Set back in bowl (if kneading by hand) and cover loosely with plastic.

Set aside for one hour. Take out and fold a couple of times. Place back in bowl for another hour. Dough should be light and airy and double in size.

Divide dough into 2 oz. pieces for 18 rolls.

To create the classic pretzel shape, roll the dough into a long line. Create a U-shape. Cross the right end over the left and twist. Flip them down to cross the bottom of the U. Voila. Pretzel. Alternatively, you can shape these into a rectangular roll. Place on a flat sheet lined with parchment paper.

Set aside covered for one hour, or refrigerate (up to 12 hours) with a double layer of plastic. If you choose the latter option, you will need to take the dough out and let it rest at room temperature for an hour before you boil the pretzels.

Fill a small saucepan halfway with water. Add a generous sprinkling of baking soda, approximately a small palmful. Bring to boil, reduce temperature to medium-high.

Place one pretzel roll in at a time for 30 seconds. Repeat until all pretzels have been boiled.

Slash each roll two or three times with a knife. Lightly coat with an egg wash. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Grab some fancy cheese and pickles and have yourself a picnic.

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