April 26th marks National Pretzel Day. To celebrate, follow our step by step guide and make delicious hot pretzels at home. It's easier than it looks!
No one really knows the true origins of the pretzel. It's seen as a traditional German food and it's thought that early Christians baked them for Lent; their twisted shape is meant to depict arms in prayer. And one 12th century French manuscript shows a pretzel-shaped bread being served at a royal feast. Nowadays, pretzels are eaten slathered with mustard, eaten warm with a cold beer or even dipped in chocolate. Here's how you can make them yourself.
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1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
1 tbsp sea salt flakes, plus extra for sprinkling
50g light brown sugar
500g strong white bread flour
225ml warm water
4 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1. Mix the yeast, the tablespoon of sea salt flakes and the brown sugar in a large bowl. Pour on the warm water and mix together to form a craggy-looking dough.
2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, until it is soft and elastic. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place (the airing cupboard, a warm room or wherever the cat sleeps) to rise for an hour.
3. The dough should now have doubled in size. Cut it into 6 pieces.
4. Roll each piece out into a long, thin rope-shape with your hands. The thinner the dough the more pronounced the pretzel shape will be — a thicker rope will produce a chunkier pretzel.
5. Now, twist the pretzel to shape it: make the dough into a 'U' shape on a board. Twist the two ends over and under each other twice and then fold it over so that the ends of the dough are on the bottom of the 'U' shape. Use a little water to stick the ends in place. Repeat for all 6 pretzels.
6. Arrange the pretzels onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and leave for another 30 minutes. Once the half hour is up and the pretzels have turned puffy, fill and boil the kettle and preheat the oven to 220°C. Measure out the bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
7. Tip 600ml boiling water into the bowl with the bicarb — it will fizz. With a slotted spoon, dip each pretzel into the hot water for about 20-30 seconds and place back on the baking tray. This step will give the pretzel its characteristic dark crust and distinctive flavour.
8. Brush the dipped pretzels with beaten egg thinned with a drop of water, and then sprinkle them with salt. Bake for 15 minutes. The pretzels will have a dark crust but will be fluffy and white inside.
9. Indulge in your delicious pretzels and serve with honey mustard or a sauce of your choice.
Have you ever made pretzels? How do you like to eat them?