Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bake It!: Polish Soft-Baked Pretzels

This weekend, Boston got slammed by a blizzard. A real life blizzard. Two feet of snow, whipping wind, snow drifts, the whole nine yards.  There is something about snowy or rainy days that inspire the baker in me.  Maybe it is the cold outside that inspires to create something warm and comforting inside.

Pretzel Baking Weather
As a first-generation Polish-American, I often find myself gravitating toward recipes that reflect my heritage.  My grandfather was a baker in Poland before he came to America, so perhaps I inherited some of my inspiration from him.  I imagine that these pretzels are something he would have made and sold in his bakery in the 1950s.

These Polish homemade pretzels are called precle domowe (PRREHTS-leh doh-MOH-veh).  They are delightfully golden brown on the outside and soft, tender, chewy on the inside.  A baking soda-water bath takes the place of the lye bath common used on German pretzels.

After two hours of shoveling out my driveway, I rewarded myself with a Long Trail Ale and started my Polish pretzel making adventure.

Precle Domowe (Polish Homemade Soft Pretzels)
Yield 12 pretzels

For dough:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

For boiling:
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

For topping:
1 large egg, beaten + 1 tablespoon water (aka egg wash)
coarse salt or seasoned salt like Borsari
sesame seeds (optional)

Making the Dough:

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine water, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  • Wait 5 minutes until the mixture starts to bubbly.
  • Add flour and melted butter.
  • Using the dough hook attachment, mix at low speed for 5 minutes, then increase to medium speed and mix another 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic and cleans the sides of the bowl.
  • Transfer dough to greased bowl and cover with a cloth.  Let stand in warm place for 1 hour to allow it to rise.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Divide risen dough into 12 equal parts.
  • Roll each piece into a rope about 24 inches long and form into pretzel shape.
    • Longer the rope, the thinner and more traditionally the pretzel will look.
    • Shorter the rope, the thicker the pretzel. And if its especially thick, you can use it as a sandwich roll
  • Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and lightly coat the paper with cooking spray.
  • In a large stockpot or dutch oven, bring water & baking soda mixture to a boil.
  • Drop as many pretzels as will fit comfortably into the boiling baking soda-water mixture (my dutch oven held 4 pretzels at a time).
  • Cook for 30 seconds on each side and transfer to prepared cookie sheet.
  • Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on coarse salt, seasoned salt, or sesame seeds
  • Bake 12 minutes or until golden.
  • Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Of course, these pretzels are best warm right out of oven.  You can store the extra (if there are any left) in a air-tight container.  Reheat by warming in the toaster oven.

Tried this recipe? Leave a comment or tweet me at @lostinlaliland

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