I was intrigued by this month's Have the Cake challenge, pretzels, as chosen by Rena, and so I felt that I should definitely try to make the time to participate. It is rare that I have the time to bake, (as shown by how little I post on HTC) as I really need both of the kids to be napping to get any work done. Since my sourdough start should be used and "fed" every ten days and I had last touched the stuff oh, three weeks ago, I searched high and low for a sourdough pretzel recipe - two birds, one stone! It was a little difficult, but I finally found one on Group Recipes.
As a side note, during my recipe search I found several sourdough bakers who have named their sourdough, which I find, well, a little odd. Granted, I do think of it as a sort of pet that lives in my refrigerator. My sourdough pet demands flour and milk and gets nasty if I ignore it, but I never thought of naming the stuff! In the interest of perhaps treating the start better if I do name it, the start has now been named "Nellie". Nellie was my great-grandmother who grew up in San Francisco and who passed the start down to my mother. So, Nellie, would you like to make some pretzels?
Twenty-four hours before I was going to make the pretzels I got Nellie out of the fridge and took 1 cup out and added a half a cup each of milk and flour. Anna wanted to help - she's an excellent stirrer - so here she is mixing the start and getting it ready to proof:
Twenty-four hours later I scuttled Anna off to the drop-off daycare place (she cries if I turn on my Kitchen-Aid mixer), put Henry down for nap and began to make the pretzels.
1 1/2 cups sourdough start
1 cup hot water
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons butter (the baker did not specify, but I assumed unsalted butter, and then not paying attention again I accidentally added 3 Tablespoons instead of 2 - worked out in the end!)
2 tsp salt
@5 1/2 cups flour
I warmed up about 3 cups of hot water and then put 1 cup of water, the sugar, butter and salt into a bowl and mixed them. When that was cooled to lukewarm I used the remaining hot water to warm up my mixing bowl and then put the proofed start and the water/butter stuff in the bowl and mixed them. I then added flour a 1/2 cup at a time until the dough balled up and came away from the sides of the bowl - which ended up being about 4 cups of flour.
After that, I put the dough down on my lightly floured pastry board. My beloved husband surprised me a few weeks ago and bought me the best pastry board! It's a lovely wood board with a lip to hold it on the counter and a lip to keep the dough from rolling off the top, rulers on the side and top and circles for different diameters of crusts. Thanks honey! Anyway, here is the dough on the new board after I kneaded it and added probably another 3/4 cup of flour:
I kneaded it until it became smooth and not sticky, "like a baby's bottom", as my mother used to say, and since I change a lot of diapers, I know exactly what that feels like...
I put the dough into a greased bowl, rolled it around to coat it and let it rise for 2 hours. At that point I put a pot on the stove and began boiling water while I took egg size pieces of dough and rolled and twisted them into pretzels. Once they were done and the water was boiling I put a few pretzels into the water at a time until they rose to the surface and then put them on a baking sheet. (Note for next time - the recipe does not say to put them on a greased baking sheet and I won't be making that mistake again - grease that sheet!) The recipe doesn't say this, but I did it anyway; I beat an egg with a little water and then brushed that on each pretzel before I generously sprinkled them with Kosher salt.
During this whole process, while I was rolling and baking the pretzels, Henry sat on the couch and moaned... Poor thing had his 6 month birthday/check-up that day and was not doing well with the four shots he had received at the doctor's office. See, he looks pitiful doesn't he?
I popped the pretzels into my preheated 425 degree oven and baked them for what ended up being 19 minutes. My husband ate 4 of them before they had a chance to cool - and said something in between bites about, "You could make me a batch of these every week!" Okay then - I think we did good Nellie!
Here's a picture that I took of the finished pretzels before they were eaten:
They were very yummy!