Tuesday, November 1, 2011

adventures in baking

I'm not much of a baker. Some times I can conjure up a great batch of cookies, and I've been told I make a mean pizza, but thats about the extent of my baking abilities thus far. I'm beginning to take some baby steps into experimenting with doughs, and I am using my day off to play around with making soft pretzels. I borrowed the recipe from The Fresh Loaf and modified it a bit... I should probably follow the recipe exactly, at least for the first round, but I kind of want to see what I can get away with, and what will happen if I add more yeast than the recipe calls for.

** These pretzels didn't turn out like the soft pretzels you get on a street corner, I would definitely say they were more "rustic", or bread-like, to be honest. Yes, they are yummy, but I haven't hit the nail on the head yet. 

Here is my modified list of ingredients:
1.25 tsp Rapid Rise Yeast
1 Tbsp Turbinado [Sugar in the Raw] Sugar
1/4 Cup ground Flax Seed
3/4 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
2 Cups Wheat Flour, with germ [not whole wheat flour, just plain white wheat flour. It simply hasn't been refined or enriched. also, the 2 Cups is an approximation; I used just under 2 Cups to achieve what I perceived to be the desired consistency... ]
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 Cup warm 1% Milk [microwave until warm to the touch. the recipe I followed called for 110 degrees. I was too lazy to dig out my thermometer and decided to go with "very warm to the touch". Once again- we'll see what happens]

1. In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
2. Pour the warmed milk into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add 1 Cup of the dry ingredients and begin to mix on Speed 2 [as per KitchenAid mixer, using the hook attachment].

3. Once the first cup of flour is mostly incorporated, add a second cup and continue to mix. The batter will thicken considerably.
4. Now add 1/2 Cup more of the dry ingredients and allow the mixer to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. The dough should begin forming a ball, and not sticking to the sides of the bowl. If the dough still seems a bit too tacky, add 1/4 Cup more flour and let it work in for a moment. If at first it seems too dry, let it keep mixing and it should incorporate perfectly within a minute or 2.  If it is too dry, sprinkle in a teaspoon or so of water.

5. Once the dough has completely pulled away from the sides of the mixing bowl and has been kneaded by the dough hook into a tight ball, transfer it to a clean bowl [large enough to hold the dough once it has doubled in volume], lightly coat the entire surface [bottom & top] with a little bit of olive oil [1 tsp], cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm to proof for at least an hour.
 lubed & proofing.

 after one hour.

6. Now that the dough has doubled in volume, preheat your oven to 425 degrees, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and turn the dough out onto a large cutting board and gently shape into a ball. Cut the ball into 6 relatively equal pieces.

7. Roll each chunk of dough into a long rope, about 18-20 inches or so. Be sure to keep all resting dough and rolled ropes covered with a damp towel.

8. Twist each rope into your desired shape.  I twisted one into a sort of fancy roll shape, and the rest we shaped as pretzels.

"fancy knot"

standard pretzel

9.  Now that all of your pretzels are shaped, using two spatulas to hold the pretzels in the water- carefully submerge each one, one at a time, into the boiling water for about 15 seconds. Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet, or baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle with Kosher salt.

10. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the pretzels are a dark, golden brown. Remove from oven and enjoy!

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