Introduction
In general, pretzels come in two types – soft and hard. This recipe is for the soft type. The soft pretzel is the type traditionally made in Germany, where pretzels originated. Being from that part of the world they are, with their salty taste, a favorite to go along with beer. Pretzels are made with a sprinkling of rock salt, which is generally dusted off just before eating.
The characteristic external color and texture of pretzels is achieved by immersing the pretzel in an alkaline solution. In Germany, sodium carbonate or washing soda, is often used for this purpose, but sodium carbonate is hard to come by in Japan, so this recipe uses sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda.

Ingredients
Bread flour (強力粉 / Kyōrikiko) 300 g
Yeast solution (酵母液 / Kōbo-eki) 180 cc
(Adjust depending on the condition of the flour, humidity, etc.)
Malt powder (モルトパウダー / Moruto paudāh) 1/2 tsp
Salt (塩/ Shio) 1 tsp

Water for Boiling
Baking soda (ベーキングソーダ / Bēhkingu soda) 2 tbsp
Water (水 / Mizu) 750 ml

Garnish
Rock salt (岩塩 / Gan-en) To taste

How to Make
1. Mix the yeast solution well.
2. Combine everything. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is about as soft as your earlobe. If the dough becomes too stiff while kneading, it’s OK to add some of the yeast solution. When you finish kneading, form the dough into a round shape.
* If you use a baking machine for kneading, set it to knead for 5 minutes. Then knead for an additional 3 minutes by hand. If you use a food processor, knead for 1 minute.
3. Let the dough rise to 2-3 times its original size. Do not let the surface become dry. At a room temperature of around 24℃ (75℉), the dough will require a few hours to rise. This is the first rising. If the dough begins to dry out, cover it with a damp cloth.
A finger test will tell you when the first rising is finished. Put some flour on your index finger, plunge your finger into the middle of the dough and pull it out. If the hole you make does not close up, the dough is finished rising.
During winter, when room temperatures may be lower than 24℃ (75℉), the first rising could take up to 24 hours. During summer, with a room temperature of around 30℃ (86℉), the first rising could finish in as little as 2-3 hours. Managing the first rising at warmer temperatures, therefore, requires greater attention.

4. Once the first rising is finished, press the dough out with the palm of your hand to let the gas out. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and make each into a ball. Set these aside for about 20 minutes. As in the first rising, take care not to let the surface of the dough dry out.

form the pretzels5. Roll each ball into a strand that is 30~40 cm long and a little fatter in the middle than at the ends. Form the strand into a U shape. Bring the two ends together and lay one over the other. Twist two times and then bring the ends down and place them on the bottom of the U. Let these raw pretzels rest for about 20 minutes. This is the second rising.

6. Cover a cookie sheet or baking tray with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 230℃. Add the water and baking soda to a large steel pot and bring this to a boil. Carefully put the pretzels into the boiling water. At first, they will sink to the bottom of the pot, but should rise after about 10 seconds. Boil the raw pretzels for 30~40 seconds on each side. Remove the pretzels to the baking tray and sprinkle with rock salt.pretzels on the oven paper

7. Bake the pretzels at 230℃ for 13 minutes. Baking times will differ depending on the oven. A bit of trial and error may be necessary to find the right amount of baking time for the oven you use at home.

Notes:
1. Always add baking soda to cold water and then begin heating. Carbon dioxide gas is released when baking soda is added to water. Adding baking soda to hot water will speed the expansion of the gas in the water and could cause the pot to rapidly boil over.
2. Do not use an aluminum pot to boil the baking soda/water. Baking soda will react with aluminum oxide on the surface of the pot and with aluminum itself, dissolving these substances into the water.
3. When rolling the dough into strands, rolling out a bit and then holding the dough up by its two ends will help to lengthen the dough.

Recipe Developed by:Kaoru Shibata

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