Archive | June, 2009

Soft Pretzels

23 Jun

Blog Pics 219

I love soft pretzels. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought one on the street in Manhattan, only to be disappointed by the fact that they tasted strongly of stale smoke and were anything but soft.

A few months ago, these soft pretzels were going around the food blog world like crazy.  I don’t often make those “craze” type foods – mainly because they’re usually complicated or use a level of hand-eye coordination I just don’t have. I would love to make cupcakes that look like ladybugs, or complicated cassoulets (fine, you got me, I don’t know what that is, but it sounds fancy). It’s just not going to happen.

But soft pretzels were one thing I would take a risk with. It sounded complicated, with a lot of steps. Honestly, though, these were worth it. They were really soft and flavorful, and didn’t end up being all that difficult.

Soft Pretzels

adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature

Ingredients

2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and stir until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined. Mix until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and mix 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); stir until combined. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.

5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

Pre-Bake

Pre-Bake

Finished!

Finished!

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Easy French Bread

2 Jun
(sorry for the bad picture!)

(sorry for the bad picture!)

When I recently made mussels for dinner, I realized we didn’t have any bread and it was too late to run out for some. Ihappened to come across a recipe for bread in under an hour. I was sold!

I didn’t have incredibly high hopes for this bread, but it was pretty good! I was a little dense, but flavorful. This is a great bread to make in a pinch, and perfect for dunking in sauces or broths.

Enjoy!

French Bread
recipe from Firesign Farm via The Fish Wife Cooks

Ingredients:
1 1/2 C. warm water
1 Tbs. honey
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. (one packet) active dry yeast
3-4 C. flour

Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine water, honey, salt and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes, until bubbles form.
Add flour, one cup at a time, until dough is no longer sticky. (I used 4 cups)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Shape dough into a 12″ “loaf” and place on prepared cookie sheet.
Using a razor or sharp knife, cut four 1/2 inch deep slits into dough.
Bake for 20 minutes.