When I had a job, there were days that I was so jealous of unemployed people. I wished I could just wander around the shops aimlessly for hours on end. Now that I am unemployed and have a chance to do that, I get so bored just wandering. There are so many shopping centres and malls in Singapore. Often you will be in one mall walking around then you realize you’ve walked into another mall. You often see the malls lined up right next to each other near the train stations and at Tampines, which is where I often go to get groceries, there are three shopping centres. Two on one side of the train station and one on the other. This tiny space that just lines either side of the train station, has only one less mall than all of Canberra. It makes Key and I laugh all the time.
Last week, I had been doing some wandering at the shops in the morning and I was getting that bored shopping centre overload feeling. I came home and there was no denying it, I needed a soft baked pretzel. Soft baked pretzels are pretty easy to come by in Singapore. There is an American chain here that sells them and a lot of the Asian style bakeries (like Bread Top) sell them too. I guess I’d seen one and subconsciously hidden it away for a later craving. I wanted to try making one myself.
I didn’t want to make a big batch (because I’d eat them all) and I wanted that true pretzel taste without having to dip into a big pot of bicarb and rolling boiling water. I came up with a pretty good work around and the results are yummy.
For the longest time I was so scared of yeast and Key would always be the one making beautiful breads and rolls, but I am getting much more confident. I know the directions can seem a bit daunting, but I wanted to include as much information as possible as I know how scary making yeast based products can be :)
Before and after.
If you don’t have a thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk mix, just try and get it as close to blood temperature. You will know it is close when you dip your finger in and you kind of can’t feel the temperature. It’s neither hot nor cold. If you do heat it too much, just let it sit for a while to decrease the temperature.
If your yeast doesn’t froth and bubble up on top of the milk mix, don’t bother with the rest of the steps. It’s either dead yeast (expired perhaps) or the milk was too hot or cold.
You don’t need to be too careful with rubbing in the butter, you aren’t making scones or anything so it’s ok if it warms up as you combine it with the flour.
The dough is a small batch, so you can actually just knead it in between your hands if you want, which saves flouring a board or the bench.
The first rise should basically double the size of the dough ball.
The second rise is called a prove and it should increase in size a little again. The prove will make sure the pretzel dough sticks together so that it shouldn’t fall apart while dipping or baking. I’ll say it before you think it, they look a little *ahem* funny at this point.
The size of the dish you use for the bicarb dipping is important. It should fit the 2 cups of water while still allowing the pretzel to be dipped in. Using a spider or flat spatula helps the dipping process immensely.
The pretzels are nice and burnished on the outside with that familiar pretzel flavour and they are soft and bready on the inside.
Soft Baked Pretzel for Two
Ingredients – Makes 2 pretzels
- ¼ cup of milk
- ¼ tsp raw sugar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp dried instant yeast
- ½ cup bread flour
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp margarine or softened butter
- 2 tbs bicarb soda
- sea salt flakes for sprinkling
- Add the milk, sugar and honey to a coffee cup or mug. Heat the milk mix in a microwave for about 15 seconds or until it is about 40°C.
- Once it’s reached temperature, stir it briskly to help melt and mix in the sugar and honey.
- Still in the mug, sprinkle the yeast over the top of the milk mix and lightly stir it in. Let the mug sit undisturbed in a warm spot for 10 minutes.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour and fine salt, then rub in the margarine or butter.
- Once the yeast and milk mix has sat for the allocated time and it has bubbled up, add it to the flour mix and lightly bring together with a spoon or your hands.
- Once the mix forms a ball, flour your hands and gently knead for about 1 minute. Scrape out any leftover bits from the bowl and ensure they are worked into the dough ball. If the mix is sticking to your hands too much, you may need to work a tiny bit more flour into the dough during the kneading process. The dough should be just sticky enough that it is staying together in one ball, but not sticking to your fingers.
- Once dough has been kneaded, shape it into a rough ball shape and return it to the same bowl. Cover it lightly with a tea towel or cling wrap and let sit and rise in a warm place for 40 minutes.
- Once 40 minutes has elapsed and the dough has grown in size, remove the covering and very gently press down on the dough to knock any big air pockets out.
- On a floured surface, gently roll out the dough into a long sausage shape then cut it in half.
- Continue to roll and stretch each piece of dough in a sausage shape, until it is as long as possible without breaking .
- Shape each piece into a pretzel then place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover with the upturned bowl and rest in a warm place again for a further 30 minutes.
- At this point, preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Once the second rest time has completed, mix together the bicarb soda with 2 cups of just boiled water in a shallow dish or bowl. It should fizz up.
- Straight away, dip each pretzel in the bicarb water for about 30 seconds each side. Make sure the bicarb water touches all of the pretzel surface.
- Once dipped, return the pretzels to the lined baking tray, then sprinkle the tops with sea salt flakes.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Enjoy hot or cold.