I found the food in Alsace completely different to anywhere else in France. Being very close to Germany gave the food a very strong German accent: dishes served with lots of sausages, pork knuckle and sauerkraut. Bretzel was another great example of this crossover - it is basically an Alsatian version of the German pretzel.
- ½ red capsicum
- ½ green capsicum
- ½ yellow capsicum
- 3 garlic cloves
- 20 g thyme leaves
- 20 g rosemary leaves
- 10 g fresh sariette leaves
- 10 g celery leaf
- 150 ml olive oil
- 200 g semi-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 200 g green olives, finely chopped
- 200 g black olives, finely chopped
- 1 kg plain flour
- 20 g salt
- 20 g fresh yeast
- 200 ml water
- 200 g grated Emmental or Gruyère cheese
- 1 litre water
- 80 g bicarbonate of soda
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Dice the capsicum into 5 mm pieces. Roughly chop the garlic, herbs and celery leaf.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat until 80°C. Add the capsicum, garlic and herbs and cook for 4 minutes or until tender.
To make the dough, place the flour and cooked capsicum mixture in a large bowl. Add the semi-dried tomato,olives, salt and yeast. Mix by hand until a crumbly consistency. Add the water and continue to mix until combined. Divide into two portions and roll into sausage shapes. Wrap plastic wrap and rest for 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. On a floured work surface, flatten the dough by rolling into a thick tube shape. Cut into 50 g pieces (use a scale for accurate size and weight.)
Rolling the dough pieces from the middle outwards and moving your hands toward the end of the dough, make 25-30 cm-long strips. They should be slightly thicker in the centre, and thinner at either end. Shape into horseshoe shapes, about 8 cm wide at the ends. Taking either end, twist twice and fold the ends to the opposite side. Press to join. Gently spread the three windows open. Transfer to prepared tray. Rest for 30 minutes to prove (rise).
Prepare the water bath by combining the water and bicarbonate of soda. Bring to boil, then dip each bretzel into the water bath for 30 seconds. Drain. Transfer to prepared tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.