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German soft pretzels?


richichi
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We are having a competition at work. Winner gets their recipe used at a beer tasting and some of the local professional hockey players (a little too Canadian?) will be trying them out. I was wondering if anybody has any tips or suggestions to set my pretzel apart? Being pretty new to the profession I don't really have my own recipes yet so I was planning on making use of the King Arthur Flour recipe on their website. Also, I have only made them 3-4 times in my life. Making a batch tonight in hopes that I can get a win tomorrow.

 

I was hoping to bust out some classic lye bathed ones but the boss put the kibosh on any use of lye. Also, each of us was given a type of beer that will be paired with the pretzel. Mine is Hefewizen which is wheat bear. I was hoping to actually bake some of the beer into my pretzel but not sure.

 

Any experienced pretzel makers out there that can help an apprentice baker out?

"If you can crack an egg one-handed, you'll have no problems undoing a brassiere." -Newfie saying

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look for any number of German sites.

 

get some lye for proper dipping.  kibosh the boss.  good pretzels require the lye.

 

"a win tomorrow" - seirously?  a question the night before the contest?  how late are you planning to stay up testing?

 

and that would be Hefeweizen.

Hefe=yeast

Weizen-wheat

there is another variation Krystal Weizen - filtered, not cloudy like the Hefe version.

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look for any number of German sites.

 

get some lye for proper dipping.  kibosh the boss.  good pretzels require the lye.

 

"a win tomorrow" - seirously?  a question the night before the contest?  how late are you planning to stay up testing?

 

and that would be Hefeweizen.

Hefe=yeast

Weizen-wheat

there is another variation Krystal Weizen - filtered, not cloudy like the Hefe version.

"If you can crack an egg one-handed, you'll have no problems undoing a brassiere." -Newfie saying

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One tip I know of is, some professional bakers use caraway seed flour as an ingredient. Just get some caraway seeds and grind in a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder. I can't tell you exactly how much to use, you want to go easy on this, it can be a powerful spice.

 

I am guessing that you aren't really familiar with Hefeweizen, which is a bit sad, as my favorite beer (Altenmunster) is one. The beer is not very hoppy, it has a more pronounced yeast flavor, and sometimes can almost be slightly sweet, floral or fruity in flavor. It is a lighter colored beer. IMO, it will pair well with subtle flavors.

 

Don't forget to egg wash the pretzels, and make sure they proof well. Do you have any big crystal salt besides kosher? One of the more flavorful salts will probably be useful.

 

There's a European way to form them, with small folded arms and a large bottom (which gets slashed right before baking. I hope THIS picture helps.

 

One last thought, I know it's late, my trick with a lot of savory types of 'white bread' type doughs is to add a half teaspoon of onion powder to the mix. (not garlic, it will taste of that) Generally, what this does is amplify the 'savory' of the dough in a way that people cannot identify. They can't name it (unlike garlic powder) they just know that it doesn't taste so much like plain flour any more. Good luck!

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I made Alton Brown's soft pretzel recipe several years ago for a superbowl party. I tried them out the night before, brought them downstairs to the concierge in my building. As they later told me, "we inhaled them." You can find the recipe on Food Network. I made them again the next day and brought them to the party, and they were gone very quickly. The only thing I noticed is that if you let them sit around too long, they start to turn a light green in spots because of the baking soda. Most of the pretzels were eaten before that happened, but I noticed it on some. I don't know why that would happen, but it did. I didn't get lye, even though it's food grade, it scared me. I also didn't get pretzel salt (didn't even now such a thing existed), I used kosher salt. They're fun to make, good luck.

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Thanks so much everyone. I am going to be doing baked soda for sure that turned out much better then just baking soda. Unfortunately as far as salt goes all we have is kosher salt and sea salt at work. I am not sure which one I will go with. I am pretty unfamiliar with the beer, I am a stout guy through and through so its uncharted territory for me, Fingers crossed, this could be a huge day for me.

"If you can crack an egg one-handed, you'll have no problems undoing a brassiere." -Newfie saying

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Whole thing got pushed back, apparently we get to taste the beers and then make everything. Works out for me, as I wanted to make some pre ferment but wouldn't have had a chance previously. Now I can switch up my recipe completely. It is looking like I will be doing something along this line unless somebody on here says they have a suggestion which should take it to the next level.

 

A day ahead, create the Pâte fermentée (fermented dough):

 

144g White Flour

94g Water

2.8g Salt

15g fresh yeast

(rest 12-24 hours)

 

578g White Flour

340g Water

12g Salt

14g Fresh Yeast

36g soft Butter

7g Baking Malt

240g Pâte fermentée

 

Going to put this in a baked soda bath since I can't do a lye bath. Might see if I can get some real pretzel salt in there to though. I was thinking about adding some of the beer in place of water as well. Might hit up the beer store tomorrow since I am off and do a dry run with a random wheat beer and see how it tastes. If it doesn't work out how I would like then I might have to wait until I find out what actual beer I will be using and then try to complement the tasting notes.  :biggrin:

"If you can crack an egg one-handed, you'll have no problems undoing a brassiere." -Newfie saying

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I still strongly recommend adding a little (1/4 tsp) onion powder (add early so it hydrates and isn't visible) to add flavor. If you manage to do the dry run, and are nervous about this, just add a little onion powder to dough for one pretzel and taste it. -You'll have to do the addition later than I like, and it may wind up having spots on the surface, but IMO it's worth a test taste. (the spots go away if the onion powder is added early to the water)

 

I'd also consider adding a teaspoon of honey or molasses to the preferment, they have umami flavors in them, it's like adding a drop of soy sauce to a savory dish -too small to really taste, but adds a boost. The final product will not be sweet. Also, adding a sugar will really improve your yeast's performance. (ran some tests on this in a 3 week class once, breads with added sugars proofed faster and rose higher in the oven than breads made at the same time without)

 

BTW, use bread flour instead of AP.

 

And, baking malt is also marked as diastatic malt.

 

Pretzel salt is good, there's also a large crystal grey salt that is very nice. (got some at Home Goods, land of random gourmet foods)

 

Don't forget that proofing is important. And, again, do not forget to egg-wash. Good luck!

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Perfect I will do a test run tomorrow (got my preferment going now with the honey in it) so fingers. I can't believe I left the onion powder out of the final planned recipe. I tried doing it the night you replied with it initially and had written it into the King Arthur recipe for use in it. It will without a doubt be making an appearance. I will keep an eye out for this salt you are talking about, but unfortunately up here we don't have Home Goods. There is a place just up the street from my house though that has a large selection of oils, salts and herbs though. Might have to check them out tomorrow when they open. Might be able to score something nice there. Thank you so much for your help really appreciated!

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"If you can crack an egg one-handed, you'll have no problems undoing a brassiere." -Newfie saying

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Next month is Toots' grandson's birthday, and I've been thinking about making him a batch of pretzels, which he loves.  Every time we go up north to visit, we stop at a German bakery and buy him a few pretzels.  Some home made may make his day.

 

Now, I'm not much of a baker, so using this mix seems like a good idea.  Some ideas put forth in this discussion seem like they may work to enhance the young man's pretzel-eating experience.  Do you think adding the onion powder as Lisa suggests would be a good idea?  What about a small amount of honey or molasses (I'd probably opt for honey as there's some in the cupboard)?

 

Here's info about the mix and how it's prepared.

 

Any other thoughts on this project, anything I should know or consider?  Thanks!

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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Expectations have a lot to do with how something is received. If he is expecting a chewy German style pretzel with the big salt crystals then something "buttery" like the mix touts seems off.  Also they don't keep well so making a batch could result in hardtack by the next day or so. Most grocery stores have frozen ones (6 to a pack I think) that come with a packet of the special salt and I have found kids enjoy them very much as a warm chewy treat.. They get baked in the toaster or regular oven (or even the MW). Oh and these were kids who were no strangers to ones from the German bakery. 

Edited by heidih (log)
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Expectations have a lot to do with how something is received. If he is expecting a chewy German style pretzel with the big salt crystals then something "buttery" like the mix touts seems off.  Also they don't keep well so making a batch could result in hardtack by the next day or so. Most grocery stores have frozen ones (6 to a pack I think) that come with a packet of the special salt and I have found kids enjoy them very much as a warm chewy treat.. They get baked in the toaster or regular oven (or even the MW). Oh and these were kids who were no strangers to ones from the German bakery. 

 

I know that he'll like them. Plans are to make them the morning of his party.  I want to make the pretzels, not buy toaster pop up prepared pretzels. While he may be Toots' grandson, he's no kid.  He'll be 20 yo on his bday.  What I really want to know is what I asked ... "Do you think adding the onion powder as Lisa suggests would be a good idea?  What about a small amount of honey or molasses (I'd probably opt for honey as there's some in the cupboard)?"

 ... Shel


 

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No, I think adding onion powder is a stupid idea. They're not onion rolls, they're pretzels. As for honey, make some honey mustard if that's your speed. As for molasses, no again.

 

The frozen pretzels that heidih is referring to, and which you are so quick to dismiss, are a far cry from "toaster pop up prepared pretzels."  As a matter of fact, I'd venture an educated guess (since I happen to always have a box in my freezer) that they're a better product than any frozen Trader Joe's "pie crust" you'll be using to prepare that special Valentines' dinner for the ever-so-lucky Toots.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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The boxed mix is probably perfect as-is, the style, I imagine is more like pretzel from one of the national chains in shopping malls. I mean KA makes good products, if you're going to use a mix, I don't know that you could do any better.

 

The onion powder thing is that you add a tiny amount, ½ teaspoon per every 2 lbs flour -so ¼ added to the aforementioned mix, so small that people cannot readily identify what it is, it just adds some flavor. And again, the honey/molasses amount (1 teaspoon per 2 lbs flour, ½tsp for the boxed mix) is also so small that it doesn't really sweeten the final product -most of it gets consumed by the yeast if you add it early-on to the water. It just leaves behind umami compounds. I have run tests on each of these, and both together when developing a menu for a client. Blind taste-testers just say that the final product tastes better, they don't know why.

 

Since I am probably going to continue to be the lone voice out in the woods on this issue, I can only recommend testing these additions with a batch of plain biscuits and see how well you like it. I am always trying to sneak extra flavor into things to subtly improve them. Note everyone has to agree with me. I'm just pointing out that people who have actually tasted these additions liked them. Your mileage may vary.

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