The best Pretzels for Everyone

Bake them at home, thank me later

!WARNING: Good food has gluten!

For years now I have been raving about the most amazing German-style ‘brezels’. Yes, that’s the way you spell pretzel where I come from. Now, after posting many Instagram pictures to make all my friends drool, I am sharing the recipe for all of you. You’re welcome.

What took me so long you ask?
Well, for one, I really want you to buy Daniel Leader’s book Bread Alone. A bread baking book in which Daniel Leader, baker of famed ‘Bread Alone’ from Boiceville, New York tells the stories and of his travels all over Europe. And where he finds the most amazing local recipes from Italy, France, Germany, and other areas. Buy it — it’s worth every penny!

There is also another story still missing here. One where I should you about the time I pitched the pretzel idea to Starbucks. Years before hipsters in Williamsburg started enjoying them in newly opened uber-cool beerhalls and way before every fast food joint adopted pretzel buns on their menu. And of course Starbucks started selling them in their stores too. Again, you’re welcome.

But, without further ado, here it is in all it’s glory:

The BEST brezel/pretzel recipe in America. No serious.

(Makes 16, because why wouldn’t you want that many?)

Yes, all measurements are in grams, because if you’re baking and haven’t switched to grams, you are doing it wrong.

Flour 1000 grams.
I use a 80/20 ratio of unbleached bread flour and dark rye flour. You can use all bread flour, but I like them a bit denser so I add some rye flour or whole wheat. You can adjust the ratios if you like, just stick with a 1000 grams.

Unsalted butter 80 grams, cut into little 1/4 inch chunks. Vegetable oil, same weight, works pretty well too.

Water, tepid 600 grams. Yepp, just water.

Instant yeast 10 grams.

Sea salt 25 grams, original recipe asks for 30 grams, but I find that a bit too much, considering that you are also sprinkling salt on the outside of the brezel before baking.

Baking soda 80 grams.
To be added to the water for boiling the brezels before baking.

• For topping, find salt that is in nice big chunks, so it doesn’t disolve while baking.

1. Weigh out the flour, add it to a large mixing bowl and drop the butter chunks into it. With a pastry blender or by hand mush the butter into the flour until you can’t feel any butter chunks anymore and the flour looks more like coarse cornmeal. Similar technique to making making scones.

2. Add the water and mix it all together into a rough dough.

3. Sprinkle the salt and yeast of the dough, mix a bit more and drop onto your lightly floured counter to kneed.

4. Knead for 10-15 minutes by hand until the dough is amazing. Smooth, springy beautiful. Yes, kneading for that long is totally worth it!

5. Put the dough back into your mixing bowl and let rise in a warm place for an hour, until it’s doubled in size.

6. After an hour take the dough out of the bowl, divide it into 16 pieces with a pastry cutter and form brezels. I looked at some Youtube videos and didn’t like any one, so I will have to make one myself someday. But in the meantime, you can make brezel rolls, brezel sticks, brezel knots, brezel anything… all delicious.
Lay them on a baking sheet, you need two sheets for 16 brezels. I have silpats, but any non-stick paper underneath is good.

7. The original recipe now calls for “retarding” the brezels in the fridge. This makes the dough a little harder and easier to handle when boiling. I don’t want to wait for the fridge to cool them down, so I pop them in the freezer. Just 20 minutes, or until my water boils is good enough for me.

8. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, and carefully! add the baking soda. Be really careful as the baking soda makes the water bubble up violently.

9. Add the brezels to the simmering water, make sure you don’t crowd the pot. Boil them for 20 seconds on each side, take them out with a slotted spoon and arrange them on the baking sheet with space so they don’t touch each other.

10. Bake them in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 35min. The original recipe calls for 350 degrees and 30-35 min. So play around with your oven and see what works. I like my brezels when they turn crunchy on the thin pieces, so I leave them in a bit longer.

Eat warm, with nothing but butter. Serve with chocolate milk, that’s how the Eichler’s are doing it.

Guten Appetit!

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