Pretzels are traditionally poached in what is known as lye water (an alkaline solution) and this is what gives them their shiny, dark golden crust.
These pretzels are crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and completely addictive!
- olive oil, to grease
- 60 g (¼ cup) bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 2 tsp sea salt flakes, to sprinkle
- 2 tsp poppyseeds, to sprinkle
- 450 g (3 cups) strong bread or pizza flour, plus extra to dust
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 200 g active sourdough starter (100% hydration), at room temperature
- 250 ml (1 cup) lukewarm water
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.
Proving time: overnight + 20 minutes
1. To make the pretzel dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the sourdough starter in a medium bowl. Add half the water and stir until evenly combined. Stir in the remaining water. Add to the dry ingredients and use the dough hook attachment to knead on low speed to combine. Continue to knead on low speed for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
2. Brush a medium bowl with olive oil to grease. Add the dough turning it to coat lightly with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature (about 20°C) overnight (10-12 hours) to prove.
3. Grease two trays with oil and line two separate large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
4. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down with your fist and then turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth and elastic and returns to its original size.
5. Divide the dough into 12 even portions and cover with a damp tea towel while shaping. Roll one portion of dough into a long sausage shape about 45 cm long. Make a loop by bringing the ends of the dough away from you, twist the ends together at the top of the loop and then bring the ends to bottom of the loop and press to seal. Carefully transfer to a greased tray, being careful to retain its shape. Repeat with the remaining dough portions to shape. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for about 20 minutes or until slightly puffed.
6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 210°C (190°C fan-forced). Fill a large saucepan with water, about 8-cm deep. Add the bicarbonate of soda and coarse sea salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat so that the water is at a gentle boil.
7. Working carefully so you don’t deflate the dough, use your fingers to gently slide a pretzel to the boiling water bottom side down. Poach gently for 20 seconds or until it rises to the surface of the water. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the pretzel, allowing any excess water to drain away, to a lined oven tray, bottom side down. Sprinkle with some sea salt flakes and poppy- seeds. Repeat with the remaining pretzels one at a time, allowing room between each for spreading.
8. Bake the pretzels in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until dark golden, cooked through and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Serve warm or at room temperature.
• These pretzels are best eaten warm or on the day of baking
Recipe from Not Just Bread by Anneka Manning. Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Kat Hunt. Food preparation by Vanessa Miles. Download the free ebook with all of these recipes right here.