I have a confession to make. I don’t like pretzels. Those little salt-laden little knots that always make their way onto dip platters. I just can’t stand them. They’re too salty and brittle – they dry out my mouth with such speed that it creeps me out.
I know, I’m sorry. But in the interest of full disclosure, I needed to let you know!
So when I set out to make my own, I knew that they weren’t going to be spindly and hard, they were going to be plush, pillowy little tangles of dough. And without too much salt!
These little knots do not disappoint. (I refrained from writing “do knot disappoint,” just fyi.)
They dough is gorgeously springy and light, but still has all the flavour you expect. And the subtle rosemary flavouring makes them a little more grown up. The great thing about these beauties is that they’re versatile; you could serve these at a kid’s party, spread with a little soft cheese; or have them as a starter, on a posh olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipping plate.
After packing two of these to go in The Boy’s lunch, he sent me a message saying “the pretzels are one of the best things you have ever made… I ate them both in one go.”
These humble little pretzels have changed my tune. Trying new things definitely worked out this time around – now I’m dreaming up all of the possible pretzel variations I can make. Any suggestions? Let me know…I’m thinking sweet pretzels!
Rosemary and sea salt pretzels:
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 7g sachet yeast
- 60g butter
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
- 4 cups flour
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
Pour your warm water into a container and add the brown sugar, then the yeast. The sugar should draw all of the yeast to the bottom of the container. Leave it to sit for five minutes, it should puff up quite impressively after it’s been sitting for that time.
Add the 60g of butter so that it melts into the still warm yeast mixture. Don’t worry if it doesn’t melt completely, if there are small chunks left, they’ll mix in to the flour later.
Pour your yeast mixture into the bowl of your mixer (or just a bigger bowl if you’re doing this by hand) and add the salt and rosemary. Then add the flour, one cup at a time. When all of the flour has been added, mix for two minutes (double this if you’re hand mixing.)
At this point, the sides of the bowl should be almost completely clear of ingredients – every last scrap of flour should have been incorporated into the ball of dough by now. If there’s still flour at the bottom of the bowl, add a few drops of water; if it’s sticky or too wet, add a pinch of flour.
Once you’ve got a cohesive ball of dough, mix for a further two minutes. Shape it into a ball and rub the outside with enough oil to lightly coat the outside. Place it back into your bowl, cover the bowl with a tea towel and set it in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
It’s heater weather at the moment, so I left my dough to rise with Norman, by the heater. Don’t leave it too close though, you don’t want to cook it!
When you’ve weighed out your dough, put 2L of water on the stove and bring it to a gentle boil. Add ¼ cup bicarb soda to it. Preheat your oven to 220°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
While your water is heating up, roll your hunks of dough into balls and then out into long sausages. To make decent sized pretzels, roll sausages of 50cm or more. This would be great fun to do with kids, by the way, I had a great time!
After rolling out each sausage. Shape it into a pretzel and set it to one side. The easiest way I can describe the shaping process is to say that you make a curve at the centre of the sausage, curve both ends in on one another to make two e shapes, twizzle the ends around each other and then press the ends back into the initial curve.
It makes so much more sense when you’re doing it.
You should end up with a piece of dough that looks eerily like Hedwig. I felt kind of bad eating them.
When the water is boiling, pop the uncooked pretzels in, two at a time. Don’t worry about them falling apart, this dough is fairly hardy. Let them bob about in the water for 30 seconds, scooping water over the top of them as you go. The hot water will make them puff up slightly. Fish them out, drain them and pop them straight into your baking tray. Repeat this with all of the pretzels.
Beat your egg and then brush the egg wash over the pretzels. Salt them to your taste*, then pop them into the oven for 17-20 minutes. When they’re beautifully brown and splitting slightly to reveal fairer dough on the insides, they’re ready.
*I don’t like too much salt on my pretzels (I’m obviously a sweets person!), so I only put a small amount of salt on, and even left salt off some of them completely. The pretzels pictured have about one pinch of salt on them, and it’s just regular table salt. You may wish to use chunkier salt flakes, or increase the amount of salt per pretzel for an authentic, mouth-puckering pretzel experience!