Sunday, 31 August 2014

Pretzel making

My final Wellington on a Plate event was a hands-on pretzel making class on Saturday. Most people conjure up images of moreish party treats that come in the shape of mini pretzels, but we were being shown how to bake soft pretzels by German chef Uwe Braun.

After a monumental ticketing stuff-up that resulted in some of us turning up to an empty room due to us having a different start time printed on our tickets (2 hours earlier), we returned to a more reassuring sight: tables set with everything you need to make four soft pretzels and an entertaining host.

Tools of the trade
The ingredients are simple: flour, yeast, sugar, salt, melted butter and warm beer. (We were given half-bottles of Tui but I imagine real beer would taste good. You could even use cider.) Make a well in the flour. Mix the yeast in with the beer and a little bit of surrounding flour and leave until it starts reacting. Bubbles will form on top.

The yeast begins reacting to the beer
The next parts of the process are typical of bread making, involving kneading (I remember now why I have a bread maker and Kenwood mixer), resting the gluten and shaping the dough. After several stages, long strips of dough are twisted into the famous pretzel shape and placed on a baking tray. They are then glazed with egg yolk, dark soy sauce and a little bit more beer then sprinkled with rock salt or flaky salt.

Glazed and ready for baking
Approximately 15 minutes in the oven sees the dough turned into dark coloured soft baked pretzels.

Pretzels for afternoon tea
The finished pretzels looked good but were far too salty for my palette. I actually struggled to finish one. There was quite a bit of salt in the mixture, then soy sauce and more salt added to the glaze. I might try making pretzels at home but will either drastically reduce the salt content or look for a different recipe.

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